State will phase out eviction moratorium, expand grants for renters
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday the state will "phase out" its moratorium on pandemic-related evictions by August and launched a new program to provide assistance to people who are behind on their rent because of COVID-19.
The measure expands the Illinois Rental Payment Program to a total of $1.5 billion and requires the sealing of eviction records filed due to financial hardship through August 2022.
Funding for the program, which has been made available by the federal government, will be administered through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
The state previously distributed more than $280 million to more than 260,000 households across the state, officials said.
Eligible tenants and landlords can apply to receive a one-time grant of up to $25,000 to cover up to 15 months of missed rent from June 2020 through August 2021, or until funds are exhausted.
Funds will be distributed directly to housing providers and landlords.
"The Illinois rental assistance program is a testament to how good government can make a life-changing difference for people when our dollars follow our values," Pritzker said during a news conference in Chicago. "This program expansion will allow us to take that impact to new heights for tens of thousands of Illinoisans."
To receive assistance, tenants must prove financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19, provide proof of housing instability due to missed rent, and have a household income below 80% of the median income in their area. Eligible tenants and landlords can apply to receive assistance at illinoishousinghelp.org.
Chicago Democratic state Rep. Delia Ramirez, chief sponsor of the bill, called it "a critical first step" to avoiding a housing crisis as a result of the pandemic.
Ramirez said the sealed eviction record provision is key to providing "a clean slate" for renters who might have lost their homes and allow them to find stable housing in the future.
According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, an estimated 60,000 Illinois households are vulnerable to eviction in 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
Pritzker has issued monthly executive orders prohibiting evictions due to pandemic-related financial hardship since March 2020.