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Eviction risk of 250K Cook County homes if state doesn’t extend moratorium, Sheriff Dart warns

Evictions during the pandemic would force residents to go to homeless shelters or the friends and families’ homes, increasing the risk of coronavirus exposure, Sheriff Tom Dart wrote in a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Sheriff Tom Dart
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
Sun-Times file

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Wednesday urged Gov. J.B. Pritzker to extend the state’s evictions moratorium past the expiration date this weekend as residents await funding assistance that is still being doled out.

In a letter to Pritzker and Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Dart warned that not extending the moratorium past Saturday would put as many as 250,000 households in the county at risk of eviction.

Evicting residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dart wrote, would force them to go to homeless shelters or the homes of friends and families, increasing the risk of exposure in the community.

“Like you, I have been tremendously concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not just on the health and safety of residents, but on the economic future of the entire community,” Dart wrote. “The evictions moratorium set to expire on August 22nd has been a critical component of ensuring economic stability along with government efforts to aid both tenants and property owners.”

Dart said his office, which is responsible for enforcing evictions, has “counseled hundreds of anxious residents and landlords and helped guide them to resources to help weather this crisis.”

Dart urged the officials to stop evictions until at least that assistance has been fully distributed.

The City of Chicago has already apportioned $33 million in rental assistance to 10,000 homes, while Cook County is providing $20 million to 4,400 suburban households. The state is offering $5,000 rental assistance grants, part of $150 million in funds Illinois received from the CARES Act.

A spokeswoman for Evans’ office said Cook County courts will adopt the dates of the governor’s extension orders.

“When the governor enters his extension, the chief judge’s office will enter its own,” spokeswoman Mary Wisniewski said in an email. “It’s our understanding that the governor has adopted the practice not to issue orders with extension periods of more than 30 days.”

A spokeswoman for Pritzker’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that illegal lockouts in Chicago roughly doubled from mid-March to mid-June compared to normal monthly averages, despite the evictions ban.