Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced $900 million in state grant programs to support communities and businesses disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the unrest following the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
“I’m proud of how Illinoisans responded to the public health crisis and because the people of this state have chosen to follow the data and advice of doctors, (we’ve) seen our state’s positivity rate and transmission rate plummet,” Pritzker said. “(But now) we must address the economic pain COVID-19 has visited upon us.”
The virus hit the most vulnerable parts of the economy, with small businesses, working families and communities of color paying the highest price, the governor said.
“We are in a moment that requires a historic effort to mitigate this virus’s devastating effects on the health and livelihoods of the residents of this state,” Pritzker said. “We must do so in a way that prioritizes those who were hurting long before we’d ever heard of COVID-19 – to be there for people who are in need, people who are falling through the cracks, people who never expected themselves to need a helping hand from anyone else – but now they do.
“For many people, weathering the crisis begins with keeping a roof over their family’s heads,” said Pritzker. “Even before the pandemic, 70% of low-income families dedicated half of their income to rent. Now, 1 in 3 adults have missed a rent or mortgage payment or worry about their ability to pay next month on time. … that’s unacceptable.”
The grant package, which includes assistance from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, offers a $150 million Emergency Rental Assistance program providing $5,000 grants to tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The program is expected to launch in August and assist 30,000 renters. In the interim, Pritzker said he’s extending his ban on residential evictions through July 31 to “provide a smooth transition into the assistance program.”
EVICTION BAN EXTENDED: Illinois' @GovPritzker announces a statewide moratorium on evictions through July, as a state housing assistance program is getting underway. He says nearly one in three of our neighbors are struggling to pay thier mortgages and rent.
— Amanda Vinicky (@AmandaVinicky) June 17, 2020
According to the governor’s office, eligible tenants must already carry an unpaid rent balance from March through the present and certify they were unable to pay rent due to a coronavirus-related loss of income on or after March 1. The assistance will be paid directly to the property owner or landlord on behalf of the tenant, and in accepting the assistance, landlords must agree not to evict the tenant for the duration of the program, which is expected to run through the end of the year.
A separate $150 million program is being launched to help homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgages. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, also expected to launch in August, could provide 10,000 homeowners up to $15,000 each in support.
Homeowners’ income prior to the pandemic can’t exceed 120% of the area median income and only those with mortgage arrearages, or in forbearance, on or after March 1 are eligible to apply. Eligible homeowners must certify their inability to pay their mortgage in full was due to a coronavirus-related loss of income, according to the governor’s office. Assistance will be paid directly to the mortgagor’s loan servicer on behalf of the homeowner.
Pritzker also announced the creation of the Business Interruption Grants program, which will provide $60 million to businesses experienced losses or disruptions as a result of coronavirus-related closures.
The program provides support for:
–$20 million for businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas that have recently sustained property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each
–$20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outdoor service, providing at least 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each
–$10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each
–$10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of up to $20,000 each.
The program will be available for up to 3,500 businesses and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will begin distributing funds in early July. Applications will be made available Monday.
An additional $25 million will also be used to support businesses that sustained property damage on or after May 25 as a result of civil unrest during recent protests and demonstrations, according to the governor’s office.
The Department of Human Services will provide $32.5 million in an effort to immediately mitigate poverty and respond to the needs of communities hit hard by COVID-19 and civil unrest, according to the governor’s office. The funds will support more than 73,000 across the state and includes stipends to support unemployed adults, funds to expand food banks and availability of fresh foods and produce, and support community mental health services.
The Department on Aging is also providing up to $5 million to support seniors who are in need of medications and groceries but are unable to get them because businesses have been damaged in their communities.