PHOTO: Gov. JB Pritzker speaks in Chicago Monday, Aug. 10, to announce the launch of two housing assistance programs to help people who have had trouble making rent or mortgage payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mortgage assistance program went live Monday, Aug. 24. (Credit: Blueroomstream.com)
Grants worth up to $15,000 each do not need to be repaid
By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Approximately 10,000 Illinois households whose members have struggled to pay their mortgage during the novel coronavirus pandemic can receive grants worth up to $15,000 each from the state Housing Development Authority.
A U.S. Census Bureau survey found that more than one in 10 residents have “little-to-no confidence” they can afford their loans in September due to economic repercussions caused by COVID-19 economic restrictions.
And helping those homeowners is beneficial to families, financial institutions and local governments, Kristin Faust, the authority’s executive director, said in a news release. According to IHDA, “a single foreclosure costs the homeowner, servicer and local government nearly $80,000.”
“Everyone suffers when a friend, family member or neighbor goes into foreclosure, and the pandemic has left too many families at risk of losing their homes,” Faust said.
The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program will distribute funds directly to the financial institution through which a household’s mortgage is serviced. That money can go toward past-due payments as well as future ones. No repayment is required.
Qualifying Illinoisans include those whose household had at least one adult who experienced lower or no wages due to COVID-19 and whose mortgage was being paid on time before March 2020.
Grants cover the homeowner’s past due balance and regular mortgage payments through the end of 2020 or until funding is exhausted, whichever comes first.
Applications opened Aug. 24 and can be found at ema.ihda.org. They will be accepted through Sept. 4, but the application window may close early due to anticipated high volume, according to a news release.
The program is designed to “provide critical support for our homeowners, giving them the time they need to regain their financial footing,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a news release.
“At a time when the connection between housing and health is clearer than ever, it is critically important that we keep families stably housed for individual well-being, public health and the recovery of our state’s economy,” he said. “My administration remains committed to doing everything we can to provide much-needed support for Illinois residents who have been hit hardest by the pandemic…”
The funds for the program came from the federal CARES Act — or, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security. Illinois received $3.5 billion in total. The General Assembly, when its members were in an abridged session in May, allocated $396 million of that for the House Development Authority to assist homeowners and renters.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.