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District VII Human Resources Development Council financial programs.

The community action agency known as District VII Human Resources Development Council provides short and long term assistance for families in the counties of Yellowstone, Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, and Sweet Grass. The non-profit focuses on various needs, including assisting with rent, food, energy bills, and housing counseling.

The focus of the case managers is on offering a hand up, and not a hand out. So while some short term grants may be offered in a crisis, applicants have an extensive application process in place. They often need to agree to case management and job training as well as other self-sufficiency services.

Employment, budgeting and job programs from District VII Human Resources Development Council

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training, also known as SNAP E and T in Montana, offers SNAP participants the opportunity to obtain work experience, education and job-readiness and retention training. This is offered in order to work toward the goal of becoming self-sufficient. Case management services are also available in Yellowstone and Stillwater to assist with various factors that work against achieving stable employment.

The WoRC - Work Readiness Component program provides job-readiness training and case management support to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients who are working toward becoming self-sufficient. Case Managers from District VII Human Resources Development Council work closely with clients to determine their individual needs, provide guidance, and request appropriate services.

Assets for Independence (AFI), which is a component of Saving for Tomorrow, is a matched savings program that helps individuals and families save enough money. The funds need to be used to pay for major expenditures like buying a home, the expansion or establishment of a small business, or paying for post-secondary education or job training. AFI is available to Big Horn, Carbon, Custer, Musselshell, Rosebud, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, or Yellowstone County residents.

The program provides clients with a savings account and government grants are used to match each dollar saved by the client. These savings accounts must be maintained for at least six months, with clients depositing a portion of each paycheck. When the client reaches the savings target amount, HRDC provides support and help with the purchase-making process. As the client progresses through the Human Resources Development Council savings program, HRDC also provides a range of educational and budgeting activities geared to provide money-management skills.




Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Service, HRDC provides state and federal government income tax preparation and electronic filing by IRS-trained and certified community volunteers. To be eligible for this free service, you must prove your income.

Another HRDC program targeted to low-income residents of Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Treasure, and Yellowstone Counties is the State of Montana's Best Beginnings Scholarship for young children in childcare.

This is an option for TANF recipients; working low-income families; caretakers; disabled parents; foster or guardianship families; and high school, college, or GED students with children. Children who benefit from the Best Beginnings Scholarship are required to be enrolled in and attend a licensed childcare center, a registered group or family child care home, or a legally-certified childcare provider.

Families that take part of Best Beginnings Scholarship are solely responsible for making copayments to day or childcare providers, including any fees or charges that may exceed district childcare provider rates.

HRDC's Alternative Education is open to all low-income residents who are working toward earning a GED, which is also a High School Equivalency certificate. The educational service has an Alternative Education Instructor who is trained and certified to provide one-on-one, self-paced instruction. The GED training program is free to those who are income-eligible.

Other services offered at HRDC include college readiness, tutoring for low-income high school students in the areas of daily coursework, and ACT/SAT preparation. There are even specialized services such as administration of the written driver's license examination and courses in remedial math and reading.

Financial aid for rent and utility bills

The Emergency Solutions Grant Programs purpose is to provide assistance to individuals and families who at risk of becoming homeless (Homeless Prevention Services) or that are currently homeless (Rapid Re-Housing). For residents in such a situation, please contact St. Vincent De Paul, Family Services or the Salvation Army for information on rental and other assistance.

The Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is part of ESG, assists residents with quickly finding, moving into, and also maintaining permanent housing. This can help the recently evicted, homeless, and even victims of domestic violence. It is also for people existing a shelter or transitional housing unit. Grants can be used to pay the security deposit, first or last months rent, and even a utility connection fee.





Emergency rental assistance is a part of the District VII Human Resources Development Council Homeless Prevention services. Low income individuals or families must be living on a very low income. They also need to be without sufficient resources, financial assets or support networks to prevent them from moving to an emergency shelter.

Other conditions apply as well, such as the applicant needs to have received written notice that their right to occupy their current quarters will be terminated (so being evicted), they need to be threatened with moving into a shelter or motel, and need to be out of all other options.

Montana's homeless population, including in the counties of Yellowstone and Carbon includes a large percentage of young single mothers and their children. Harmony House is a transitional living resource targeted specifically to this segment of the population. The housing program provides a nurturing and supportive place to learn and grow for single parents.

HRDC can help the disabled as well. For struggling individuals who have no dependents, the state of Montana General Relief Program provides assistance with making rent payments during the waiting period for approval of Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Income (SSI/SSDI).

Once the applicant is approved for SSDI, the federal government Social Security Administration pays the amount provided as assistance back to HRDC on your behalf. So this aid is more similar to a short term loan as it is repaid. If benefits are denied by an Administrative Law Judge from SSI, any repayment is waived.

As both a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, and as being part of the NeighborWorks Montana network of housing counselors, HRDC offers free housing counseling in regard to foreclosure prevention. This touches upon mortgage delinquency, default resolution, and pre-purchase counseling. First-time homebuyers and individuals in pre-foreclosure or full-fledged foreclosure are eligible for assistance. There are no income guidelines in place.




The Low-Income Energy Assistance (LIEAP) and Energy Share Programs from District VII Human Resources Development Council provide vital home-energy bill assistance to eligible disabled and low-income families and individuals. This is offered for those living on fixed incomes. This can include General Assistance, Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Assistance, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. LIEAP and also grants from ESP are available to both homeowners and tenants, with services based on type of housing, income level, type of heating being used, and even number of household members.

Transportation resources are available. Funded in part by the United Way of Yellowstone County, the Wheels for Work program removes barriers to transportation that often keep low-income individuals from either obtaining or keeping jobs. The program provides a number of options for those who are found to be qualified, including vouchers for paying gasoline or cabs, limited assistance with vehicle repairs, or bus passes.

For more information, District VII Human Resources Development Council can be reached at one of two offices. They include.

Billings Center - 7 North 31st Street, Billings, Montana 59101, 406-247-4732

Hardin location is at 501 North Center Avenue, Hardin, MT 59034, 406-665-3500


By Jon McNamara

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