Court-based program aims to distribute $60 million to renters facing eviction due to COVID-19
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – The state’s moratorium on enforcement of residential evictions will expire on Oct. 3, according to Gov. JB Pritzker’s latest COVID-19 executive order issued Friday.
Pritzker had extended the order each month with minor to substantial revisions since March 2020. The extensions have come in 30-day windows, coinciding with his monthly reissuance of a disaster proclamation in response to the pandemic.
While most of the provisions in Pritzker’s latest executive order were extended through Oct. 16, the section providing for the eviction moratorium is scheduled to be rescinded just two weeks into the 30-day order which was issued Friday.
The most recent iteration of the moratorium, which will expire Oct. 3, allows for court proceedings but prevents law enforcement from carrying out an eviction. It also allows for evictions in health and safety circumstances, and for “uncovered persons,” which include those who refuse to fill out paperwork for assistance, who can’t prove loss of income from COVID-19 or who earn more than $99,000 individually or $198,000 as a joint-filing household.
In a statement, Pritzker’s office pointed out that Illinois remains one of the top states in distributing emergency rental assistance funding from the federal government. Illinois has distributed almost $330 million of $630 million allotted, placing it sixth out of all states, according to a database maintained by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
“In 2020, more than $230 million was disbursed to renters through an inaugural pandemic rental assistance program, and in 2021, an additional $500 million was made available through the Illinois Rental Payment Program, more than half of which has been already distributed,” Alex Hanns, a Pritzker spokesperson, said in an email. “While the eviction moratorium has kept families suffering hardship from losing their homes during the pandemic, these programs and additional resources will ensure families have a roof over their heads while they regain their financial footing into the future.”
A state Supreme Court order preventing certain judgments in covered eviction cases expired on Sept. 18 and had not been extended as of Monday.
Last week, the Supreme Court announced a court-based rental relief program received $60 million in funding to provide a “safety net for litigants who are on the brink of eviction,” according to the court. That program is available outside of Cook County, which is expected to launch its own court-based assistance program sometime in October.
Per the latest Supreme Court order, any summons in an eviction case must be accompanied by a form informing the tenant and landlord of the court-based program. It includes information on the program, what documentation is needed and the web address for the court-based aid, ilrpp.ihda.org. The Illinois Housing Development Authority call center can be reached at 866-454-3571.
Those who have lost income due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to 12 months of past due rent and three months of future rent to prevent eviction, per the program. The check would be paid directly to the landlord, who would be required to agree not to evict the tenant for nonpayment of the rent that is repaid.
The funds come from the federal government, which means applicants must be under certain income limits as defined by the U.S. Treasury. Those earning 80 percent of the area median income or less are eligible. That threshold differs based on the county, ranging from $35,700 in Alexander County to $52,200 in Cook County. It goes up about $5,000-$6,000 for each additional person in the household.
“As we continue with the planned sunset of the eviction moratorium in coordination with the court system, the Illinois Housing Development Authority will continue to review the pipeline of completed applications, and the Illinois Department of Human Services will continue to accept applications for additional rental assistance until funding runs out,” Hanns said in the statement.
Assistance may also still be available in certain areas through the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, the two state agencies overseeing disbursement of federal funding, at https://www.illinoisrentalassistance.org/providers.
Free legal assistance may be accessed through Eviction Help Illinois by visiting evictionhelpillinois.org or calling 855-631-0811.
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.
File photo: Gov. JB Pritzker.