Cook County offering rent help to tenants facing eviction
With a Cook County eviction moratorium ending in two weeks, the county will use a lottery to distribute $20 million in federal CARES Act funds to help income-eligible people with their rent, officials announced Friday.
Applications open Aug. 10 and will close on Aug. 18. Up to $4,500 will be paid to a landlord for an eligible household selected in the lottery.
The funding will be available to suburban renters with household incomes under 80 percent of the area median income who have unpaid rent charged during the pandemic.
A quarter of the funds are earmarked for the hardest hit communities. "We have conducted outreach throughout Cook County, and we know that renters are facing severe challenges making ends meet due to the pandemic," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a news release. "This rental assistance will provide much-needed relief to working families in suburban Cook County."
Without supplemental funding, tenants who have fallen behind on their rent due to job loss during the pandemic are at risk of being evicted once they are no longer protected by the eviction moratorium, which ends Aug. 22, officials said.
Commissioner Kevin Morrison of Elk Grove Village said that rental assistance is at the top of his concerns. "With the City of Chicago receiving it's own CARES Act funding, I was glad to see money prioritized for suburban Cook County," he said, adding that he is hoping for more funding from the federal government.
The assistance will only scratch the surface of the need, however. If all the grants were for the maximum amount of $4,500, the program would assist 4,444 households in an area with a population of 2.45 million people.
The program pays one to three months of overdue or future rent. Residents can review their eligibility and apply for rental assistance at www.cookcountyil.gov/recovery.
Applications are available through the online portal in many languages including Spanish, Polish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Hindi.
Rental assistance funding will be awarded by a lottery system. Payments will go out on a rolling basis as quickly as possible, officials said.
The funds will be administered by the Housing Authority of Cook County, the principal provider of publicly subsidized housing in suburban Cook County.
The program is a part of the county's COVID-19 Recovery Initiative, which includes zero-interest loans for small businesses and contractors, emergency housing for shelter residents and those re-entering from the justice system, and tax relief for businesses. For more information, visit www.cookcountyil.gov/recovery.