Kane County looks to increase value of rental assistance program with state help
By May 1, Kane County residents will have access to more than $500 million in federal money to pay for past-due rent.
The money comes as federal, state and county officials look to ward off an expected flood of eviction cases in the local courts.
Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Kristin Faust met with Kane County Board members Wednesday to iron out a partnership that will see her agency oversee the $15.8 million in federal money the county received for rental assistance. The state also received $500 million for the same purpose.
Allowing the housing authority to handle Kane County's money and local requests for help will allow for a seamless transition into the state's pool of dollars if the number of county requests exhausts its $15.8 million allotment.
"We want to use every dollar," Faust told the county board. "We think the need is there."
In January, the county staff said the nearly $16 million would likely help less than the estimated 13% of the low- and middle-income residents who may find themselves without a place to live when state and national eviction moratoriums expire.
The county board is expected to approve the agreement with Faust's agency next week. DuPage and Will counties are also on track to partner with the housing authority. Once those deals are in place, Kane County and the state will start marketing the program, which will be accessible at IHDA.org, no later than May 1.
Residents who apply may qualify for up to 12 months of past-due rent payment assistance, and an additional three months of rent due in the future. The payments will go directly to landlords. The maximum amount of assistance that will be paid is $20,000 per rental unit.
Low-income and unemployed people will receive top priority for the money. Middle-income residents will be the second tier of potential recipients.
For Kane County, a low-income renter is defined as a four-person household with an income of no more than $45,500. Middle-income renters have a household income of no more than $72,800.
Criticism of a similar program the state ran in 2020 centered on the sluggishness of getting money out the door and the inability to know where applications stood in the pipeline of pending awards. Faust said her agency has improved the system to allow for tracking the status through an online portal.
There is also a danger of the treasury department taking back unspent money if Illinois does not use at least 65% of the funds by Sept. 30. With that in mind, Faust said, the goal is for the state to spend "well over 70%" of the funds by then.