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Montana community action agency programs.

Resources are available in Montana for those facing poverty, low income families, the unemployed, and residents that are struggling. Your local community action agency can provide direct financial aid for basic needs or staff can help people apply for government benefits. Or if the agency can’t meet your needs then they will often have referrals to other local non-profits. Some of what may be available includes job search assistance, funds for paying rent, housing, or heating bills, food, and credit counseling.

While the demand for help is very high in Montana, case workers from the community action agency will try to work with all qualified clients. The main goal is to enable them to gain self-sufficiency over the long term, and this often includes employment and education. They assist people without discrimination, and seniors, low income families with children, and the unemployed are some of the main clients.

Financial aid and grants in Montana

The federally funded LIEAP program is Montana’s version of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance. It will pay a portion of heating and utility bills for those families that qualify. It runs from late fall through the winter and into the spring. Grants or credits can be provided to your utility, natural gas, or electric company and the funds can help you keep your power and heat on.

In almost all cases, clients that are found eligible for LIEAP are also automatically qualified for energy conservation from weatherization. This is a free program that is offered for qualified low income families in Montana, however there is usually a waiting list.

While the exact improvements to be made will be decided by your community action agency and approved contractors, some of the Weatherization measures can include caulking, a furnace tune-up, weather stripping, window quilts, extra insulation, storm windows, vent dampers, repair of primary doors and also replacement of broken glass. Another resource available by referrals is the Warm Hearts-Warm Homes of Montana program, which is facilitated by the Montana Conservation Corps.

Housing assistance is available from the Emergency Solutions Grant, financial aid payments, or Rapid Re-Housing and Homeless Prevention. Funds may be available to help pay rent or a security deposit. In addition, Rapid Re-Housing can help a homeless individual or family move as quickly as possible into transitional and then eventually permanent housing. Any emergency rent or housing assistance is available to individuals at risk of homelessness and they are often run in partnership with groups such as the Salvation Army or St. Vincent De Paul in Montana. There are other housing options available, and find more on Montana rental assistance.




General Relief is a state of Montana assistance program available to individuals without dependents. Your community action agency can provide information on this. As government funds allow, it can provide rental assistance while the applicant is waiting for approval of Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability (SSI/SSDI), food stamps, or other public aid.

Funding or referrals may be available for basic needs as well. Some agencies run programs (such as Clearinghouse Connections) that may be able to residents facing a crisis. The community action agencies may have free food, shelter, clothing, transportation, vision, dental, and medical treatment.

Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) is a partner organization. The law firm empowers low-income and seniors by providing them with free or low cost legal information, advice, and other services. Call 1-800-666-6899 for information on this pro-bono firm.

Wheels for Work is a Transportation program. It was created to remove transportation barriers that can often prevent low-income individuals from both finding a job and maintaining employment.

Energy Share is a emergency assistance program for paying utility bills, heating costs, or even air conditioning bills during the summer months. All funds are collected from donations and Energy Share is run by a private, nonprofit organization. Community action agencies will partner with this program. The main goal is help income qualified Montanans faced with energy emergencies and funds can help them meet their needs and move them towards self-reliance.





The main way that Energy Share helps families and individuals is by paying their heating bills. Grants may be issued on a one time basis for those that have no other options available to them.

The community action agencies will have information on pantries in Montana as well as resource such as the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Sites will often have information on SNAP food stamps and other federal government commodity programs.

Emergency Services, when available, can help with paying utility and security deposits, past due rent and energy bills. Any aid is for one month and is only on a one-time basis. Funding is low so therefore the need must be great before any agency will help. Also, the applicant must have exhausted all other resources.

Community action agency education and employment resources

General Education Development (GED) diploma counseling and training is available. Having an education, even a high school one, can help break the poverty cycle. That GED is a key to pursuing further higher education, such as a college degree. It can also place people onto a career path and ideally allow them to generate a sustainable income. Certified Alternative Education Instructors provide students one-on-one, self-paced instruction classes.

The Montana Subsidized Employment Program (SEP) can provide job development and employment opportunities for individuals who have been laid-off, are unemployed, have, had a reduction in hours, or are under-employed. This is offered for low income individuals or those facing poverty in Montana.

The Summer Youth Employment & Training resource was created to provide struggling and low-income youth the opportunity to work during the summer months. Among other things it will provide them with  job-readiness training, work experience, and soft skills while getting paid.

Many Montana community action agencies also offer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training. This will help people that are on food stamps achieve their long term self-sufficiency goal. The non-profit works with partners to facilitate opportunities for education, work experience and job retention training activities. One-on-one support is provided to clients from customized case management services, all of which can assist with overcoming obstacles which prevent individuals from becoming employed.

Similar to above, the Work Readiness Component is for Montana individuals who are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program can help them with their pursuit of self-sufficiency. The community agency will offer opportunities for job readiness training and other services.





Youth Employment for Participants is another option for low-income youth and teenagers that range in age from 14-21. It can assist those that are school drop outs, pregnant or parenting, youth with a criminal history, and those with little experience or education. The disabled may also benefit from this resource.

Head Start is the federally funded, free pre-school program serving children under the age of 5. It provides them with a learning environment and various experiences that help children develop intellectually, socially, physically and emotionally. The main goal of the Montana Head Start is to increase school readiness and develop a child’s fullest potential. It is often combined with Early Head Start, which is for even younger children and infants in Montana.

Other general Employment and Training resources can assist clients in starting or advancing your career. The services include On the Job Training, Career Guidance, Case Management, GED Referral, Education Assistance, Occupational Skills, and Job Search Instruction.

Housing programs

Many of the community action agencies are federal government HUD-approved and certified. This means they will provide free housing counseling in the areas of mortgage delinquency, foreclosure prevention, default resolution, and pre-purchase. They will also work in partnership with the NeighborWorks Montana network of housing counselors.

Transitional living and housing programs, such as Harmony House, provide women with a supportive, nurturing place to learn and grow. It will also give them the opportunity to create harmony in the lives of young women and their babies.

The Montana Rural Section 8 Program helps low income and working poor families to secure affordable, safe, and sanitary housing and apartments. Those that are able to enroll will need to pay a portion of the rent in an approved dwelling unit. Community action agencies will often administer the Section 8 program in many rural towns and counties across the state.

Pre-purchase, default/foreclosure, and rental counseling is available to people facing eviction, those in default of their mortgage, and also first time homebuyers. While a number of issues can be addressed, the majority of the housing counseling is for people on their rent or mediating landlord/tenant disputes.

Vouchers from the Section 8 Rental Assistance will helps participants pay their monthly rent on a long-term basis. While there is always a waiting list, those who enroll are able to select where they would like to live. However they must lease up in the service area where their voucher was issued in order to receive any rental assistance.





The Montana Department of Commerce also runs the Section 8 Homeownership Program in partnership with non-profits such as community action agencies. It allows eligible participants the option of purchasing a home with their Section 8 vouchers rather than renting an apartments. There are many conditions in place for these government grants.

Family Self-Sufficiency is a voluntary program for Section 8 participants who desire to gain stability and become independent of government assistance and grants. The FSS Program in Montana allows rental assistance and other support to help families achieve self sufficiency and economic independence. As part of this process, clients will be enrolled into intensive case management to establish their needs and work with case managers to overcome barriers for reaching and maintaining long term self sufficiency.

Financial literacy programs

The VITA - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance provides free income tax return preparation services as well as electronic filing for income qualified individuals and families. Both state of Montana and federal tax returns are prepared by IRS trained and certified community action agency volunteers.

Saving programs are available and are known as Assets for Independence or Family Economic Security. They are matched savings programs that are run by community action agencies. The objective is to help families and individuals save enough money for such things as buying a home or condo, starting or expanding a small business, or paying for post-secondary education or training.

Locations of Montana community action agencies

Action for Eastern Montana
2030 North Merrill
Glendive, Montana 59330
Telephone: (406) 377-3564
Counties supported by this location include Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley, and Wibaux

Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana
P.O. Box 8300
Kalispell, MT 59904-1300
(406) 752-6565
Provides assistance to Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders County. Resources include applications for LIHEAP heating bill assistance, job training, and free food.

District 6 H.R.D.C. Human Resources Development Council
Address is 300 First Avenue N., Suite 203
Lewistown, MT 59457
Telephone: (406) 535-7488
Counties - Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Musselshell, Petroleum, Wheatland.

District IV Human Resource Development Council, Inc.
Main location is 2229 5th Avenue
Havre, MT 59501-4960
Telephone number - (406) 265-6743
Supports the counties of Blaine, Hill, and Liberty.





District VII Human Resources Development Council
Main address is 7 North 31st Street
Billings, MT 59103
Telephone: (406) 247-4732
Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, and Yellowstone Counties. Examples of services include the Emergency Solutions Grant Program for paying rent and preventing evictions. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance can help with tax preparation. Also, the Montana based community action agency has information on food pantries, and the homeless can receive housing or security deposit assistance. Click here.

District XI Human Resource Council, Inc.
Location is 1801 South Higgins Avenue
Missoula, Montana 59801
Telephone number - (406) 728-3710
Residents of Mineral, Missoula, and Ravalli County can call this site for information on resources, including food, help for rent and housing, and other aid.

Human Resource Development Council, District IX, Inc.
32 South Tracy Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone number is (406) 587-4486
Counties are Gallatin, Meagher, and Park.

Human Resources Council District XII
700 Casey Street
Butte, MT 59702-3486
Telephone: (406) 496-4975
Counties are Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Granite, Madison, Powell, and Silver Bow.

Opportunities, Inc.
Great Falls, MT 59403-2270
Call (406) 761-0310 for information.
Cascade, Chouteau, Glacier, Pondera, Teton, and Toole County.





Rocky Mountain Development Council, Inc.
200 South Cruse Avenue, P.O. Box 1717
Helena, Montana 59601
Telephone: (406) 447-1680
Low income families and individuals in Broadwater, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark County can call this non-profit.

By Jon McNamara

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