Pritzker announces launch of rent, mortgage aid programs

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker, shown here on Aug. 3, says two new programs distributing a total of $300 million will help low-income households cover rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic.

    Governor J.B. Pritzker, shown here on Aug. 3, says two new programs distributing a total of $300 million will help low-income households cover rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic. Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register

 
By Peter Hancock
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com
Updated 8/10/2020 5:13 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced a pair of housing assistance programs aimed at helping lower-income households meet their rent and mortgage payments during the pandemic.

"The economic pain brought on by COVID-19 has impacted every Illinoisan, but no one has carried a burden larger than those least able to weather a financial hardship," Pritzker said during an announcement in Chicago. "Every action that we take to pave our way through this crisis and beyond must be done with a special focus on those who have too often been left out and left behind."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The two programs are being administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide $150 million in federal CARES Act funding to help low-income households catch up on their rent payments.

Tenants who are approved for that program will receive one-time grants of $5,000, paid directly to their landlords, to cover rental payments they missed starting in March and to prepay rent bills through December, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first. Those grants will not have to be repaid.

Tenant pplications are being accepted from Aug. 10 through Aug. 21, although the application window may close early due to anticipated high volume.

The housing authority expects about 30,000 tenants to receive funding. Applications can be filed online at https://era.ihda.org.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate that their income before March 1 was at or below 80 percent of their Area Median Income, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates for each county. Also, an adult member of the household must have had a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic on or after March 1, and the household must have an unpaid rent balance that began on or after March 1.

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Once the application period for the rental assistance program closes, the housing agency will begin accepting applications for the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program

Once the application period for that program closes, the housing authority will begin taking applications for the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which will make another $150 million available to households that have been unable to make their mortgage payments due to a loss of income during the pandemic.

Under that program, the state will provide grants of up to $15,000 to approximately 10,000 households to pay past-due mortgage payments, including escrowed first mortgage expenses such as property taxes, insurance and certain fees.

The grants will be paid directly to the homeowner's mortgage servicer and will not have to be repaid.

To qualify for the mortgage assistance program, applicants must have reported an adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax return at or below 120 percent of the area median income. Also an adult in the household must have had a loss of income due to the COVID-19 crisis on or after March 1. Applicants must have been current on their payments as of Feb. 29 and their mortgage must be past due or in forbearance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Applications for mortgage assistance can be filed online at https://ema.idha.org.

In March, Pritzker issued an executive order banning residential evictions in the state during the pandemic crisis. That order has been extended twice and is currently scheduled to expire Aug. 22.

During his remarks Monday, Pritzker acknowledged that the $300 million in rental and mortgage assistance won't be enough to reach everyone needing help.

"The need here in Illinois and across the nation is tremendous. And we anticipate that there will be so many eligible and interested renters and homeowners that we won't be able to give every deserving family help," he said. "But I will work with the champions in the General Assembly, as well as in Congress to advocate for federal for more federal assistance to keep people in their homes."

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