Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new help for state residents seeking housing and rental assistance on Monday, offering grants of up to $25,000 thanks to federal funds set aside for that purpose.
The new dollars were just one part of Pritzker’s housing assistance announcement. He also said the state will end its eviction moratorium in August with a “gradual phase out over the next few months.”
“It was clear when we implemented last year’s housing relief programs that the need was far greater than the dollars allocated to our state,” Pritzker said at the Segundo Ruiz Belviz Center in Chicago.
“The Illinois Rental Assistance Program is a testament to how good government can make a life changing difference for people when our dollars … follow our values,” Pritzker said. “This program expansion will allow us to take that impact to new heights for tens of thousands of Illinoisans.”
The governor was joined by state senators and representatives representing Chicago as well as other state officials for the rental assistance program announcement, which is expected to provide about 120,000 renters some relief.
Struggling homeowners will also be able to tap into $400 million in mortgage assistance starting later in the summer, Pritzker said.
The one-time, $25,000 grant will cover missed rent payments as far back as June 2020 and for pre-payments through August 2021, or until all of the funds are used.
The funds are from a federal appropriations bill that passed in December that included $900 billion in stimulus relief for the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that amount, $25 billion was allocated for rental assistance programs at the state and local levels.
Any Illinois renter whose 2020 household income was below 80% of the area median income level, is behind on their rent payments and has experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic is eligible to apply for up to $25,000 in rental assistance, which will be paid directly to their housing provider or landlord.
Priority will be given to those who earn less than 50% of their area’s median income and to households with one or more members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days, a news release announcing the program said.
The state still has $30 million in funds available to help state residents with their utility costs until the end of May. Additional funds will be available for utility bill assistance starting in September.
Pritzker also signed into law a bill that creates a statewide COVID-19 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
That bill will guide lawmakers on how to spend the federal dollars it received, allow for the sealing of eviction records until August 2022 and create a temporary COVID-19 stay of certain foreclosure proceedings and filings.
State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, a chief sponsor of the legislation in the House, said she became “deeply concerned” with housing instability during the early days of the pandemic.
“I wanted to make sure that as we were asking people to shelter in place and stay at home to stop the spread of the virus, that people were able to actually stay at home and keep their homes,” Ramirez said. “Passing this legislation has been my No. 1 priority. ... This legislation is a critical first step to averting a housing crisis, the provisions in this bill will ensure that the federal rental assistance is administered effectively and efficiently while targeting those most in need.”
Residents can submit applications for the rental payment program from Monday to June 7.