We find ourselves living in unprecedented circumstances with this global pandemic caused by COVID 19. As Missoula City Councilors, we are looking to the leaders and business owners in our community to take proactive steps to help us protect our citizens.
As you are no doubt aware, a large percentage of the workers in the Missoula area are dependent on service sector jobs for their incomes. Jobs that have all but disappeared in the wake of the closures that are necessary to attempt to slow the spread of this disease.
Many of those residents who have had hours slashed or jobs eliminated are going to have difficulty paying their bills until businesses are able to reopen. Many of these are your tenants. We call upon you all in this time of need to take action now.
Here are some of the ways you could ease the burden on the large number of your tenants who are going to be severely impacted by job loss and/or illness:
• Stop any eviction proceedings now and agree not to initiate eviction proceedings for the next 6 months. Putting people out on the street at this time would create a further burden on social services that are already stretched too thin.
• Allow tenants to apply deposit money towards rent
• Work with your property owners to consider waiving rents for tenants who have lost jobs. While we are all expecting that there will be some assistance from the state and federal governments, that assistance is not likely to arrive before April 1st when rent is due and is not going to completely replace lost wages.
• Communicate with your renters. Let them know you are willing to work with them on payment arrangements. Many of these folks may be afraid to reach out to you. We care asking that you reach out to them.
We understand that property owners may rely on incoming rent to make mortgage payments. Resources are being made available to assist property owners. For ease of reference here are a few links to websites where more information about mortgage assistance can be found:
It is critical that we come together as a community and support each other. You have it in your power to provide relief and reassurance. More than ever, people need to know they are not going to lose the place they call home.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We welcome your feedback and are open to any ideas you have for how to support our Missoula community.
Sincerely, Julie A. Merritt Missoula City Council Ward; 6 Bryan von Lossberg Ward 1; Heidi West Ward 1; Jordan Hess Ward 2; Mirtha Becerra Ward 2; Heather Harp Ward 3; Gwen Jones Ward 3; Amber Sherrill Ward 4; Stacie Anderson Ward 5; John Contos Ward 5