GREAT FALLS — The end of the month brings worries for some renters; some are out of work, and now out of money to pay for things like rent as extra unemployment benefits ended Saturday in Montana.
“The safe place to be is housed,” said Karla Seaman, director of Opportunities, Inc. in Great Falls.
The organization is ready to help keep roofs over renters’ heads as economic uncertainty continues.
Since the start of the pandemic, Seaman says they've seen the number of renters in need double over the past few months. “We had 67 in April, 198 in May, 160 in June and 129 in July so far,” she said.
Seaman says her organization is prepared to handle an influx of renters who are about to receive these eviction notices. "That's what we’re here for is to help,” she said. “To give a hand up, to say at the time of need that we’re here for you.”
She’s heard stories of long-time renters suddenly out of work due to COVID-19 who are now facing eviction. “One couple has been in their apartment for 14 years and have never been late on a payment,” she said. “And the landlord was the one who actually contacted us first.”
Opportunities, Inc. also works with landlords to settle rental disputes and evictions. “Communication is key- one is with the tenants and also with the landlords because they go hand in hand,” she said.
Seaman says tenants facing financial hardships don’t need to be ashamed to reach out and ask for help. They’re seeing many new faces that are asking for assistance for the first time.
She encourages anyone facing eviction to contact them at 406-761-0310, visiting their Facebook page, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.