State of­fer­ing $5,000 grants for strug­gling ten­ants

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

Illi­noisans strug­gling to make rent can ap­ply Mon­day to qual­ify for a $5,000 grant in a $150 mil­lion pro­gram tar­get­ing res­i­dents hurt fi­nan­cially dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic.

The pro­gram, funded by the fed­eral CARES Act, will of­fer rental as­sis­tance to about 30,000 renters across the state.

The ap­pli­ca­tion por­tal is ex­pected to come on­line at 9 a.m. Mon­day and re­main open un­til Aug. 21, a day be­fore the state’s evic­tion mora­to­rium is set to ex­pire. An­other state pro­gram of­fer­ing $150 mil­lion in fed­er­ally funded grants to home­own­ers will ac­cept ap­pli­ca­tions be­tween Aug. 24 and Sept. 4.

Kristin Faust, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Illi­nois Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, the agency ad­min­is­ter­ing the grants, said the state is “re­ally try­ing to pre­vent a huge evic­tion or fore­clo­sure cri­sis” as the econ­omy con­tin­ues to fal­ter in the face of the pan­demic.

In June, the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Em­ploy­ment Se­cu­rity re­ported that 14.6% of Illi­noisans were un­em­ployed, up more than 10% from the same time last year.

To ap­ply for rent re­lief, ten­ants must first up­load a photo of their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and pro­vide the name and email ad­dress of their land­lord. The prop­erty owner will be alerted and prompted to up­load a se­ries of doc­u­ments. The grants can be used to cover rent pay­ments be­tween March and De­cem­ber, Faust said.

IDHA ex­pects to start wiring the first grant checks to land­lords by Aug. 28, ac­cord­ing to Faust, who an­tic­i­pates that all the pay­ments will be doled out by the end of Septem­ber. She hopes the other grants for mort­gage hold­ers will all be is­sued by late Oc­to­ber.

“We’re try­ing to keep peo­ple where they need to be, which is at home with shel­ter and not hav­ing to add an­other level of worry around their hous­ing sta­bil­ity,” she said.

Ef­forts to fore­stall a loom­ing hous­ing cri­sis have in­ten­si­fied since a fed­eral evic­tion mora­to­rium ex­pired last month. On Fri­day, Cook County of­fi­cials an­nounced a sep­a­rate rental as­sis­tance pro­gram that will uti­lize $20 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing and be­gin ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions Mon­day.

Though Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed a se­ries of ex­ec­u­tive or­ders Sat­ur­day that in­cluded an evic­tion ban, ad­vo­cates have raised con­cerns that the mea­sure doesn’t help most im­per­iled renters. Mean­while, Faust is push­ing for more fed­eral money to as­sist Illi­nois renters and home­own­ers.

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