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Residential eviction ban, extended unemployment ends

Grants aimed at extending aid for renters, homeowners to become available in August

By Rex Robinson | 7/31/2020, 8:28 a.m.
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy hard including communities throughout Illinois and Will County. Thousands have lost their jobs ...

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy hard including communities throughout Illinois and Will County.

Thousands have lost their jobs and have found themselves unable to keep up with monthly rent or mortgage payments.

It's a bitter pill to swallow and for many a double whammy on this Friday July 31 as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s residential eviction ban ends as does extended unemployment benefits.

While any further unemployment extension has yet to come to fruition, more help is on the way on the mortgage and rent relief front. The latter is expected to come in the form of a $150 million program through the Illinois Housing Development Authority with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent, according to Pritzker. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) is expected to reach approximately 30,000 renters who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The program will launch in August and run through the end of the year. Pritzker said he extended the ongoing residential eviction ban through July 31 to “provide a smooth transition into the assistance program.”

To address housing instability due to COVID-19, renters who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be prioritized in the grants process, Pritzker added. Eligible tenants must already carry an unpaid rent balance from March through present day and certify that the reason they were unable to pay rent was due to a COVID-19 related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to a property owner or landlord on behalf of the tenant and as a condition of accepting the assistance landlords must agree not to evict the tenant for the duration of the ERA. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.

IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000 to provide support with mortgage payments. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) is expected to assist approximately 10,000 eligible homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage. The program is also expected to launch in August 2020 and provide assistance through the end of the year.

Building upon efforts to mitigate housing instability, homeowners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will also be prioritized in the grants process. Homeowners' income prior to the pandemic cannot exceed 120 percent of the area median income (AMI). Therefore, only homeowners with mortgage arrearages, or in forbearance, on or after March 2020 through present day may be eligible to apply. Eligible homeowners must be able to certify that the reason they could not pay their mortgage in full was due to a COVID-19-related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to the mortgagor's loan servicer on behalf of the homeowner. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted.

More information about applying for the available funding through the state is available at ihda.org.

Meanwhile, Will County has received about $120 million in CARES Act funding through the federal government and part of that funding is earmarked for housing assistance. A new website with information about that funding and how to apply for it is at willcountyillinois.com.