With Ban Set to Expire, Advocates Hope Rental Assistance Will Stave off Evictions

The Chicago Emergency Rental Assistance Program application window closes June 8

The city is providing another round of assistance to Chicago landlords and renters.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides grants to cover 15 months of missed rental payments.

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READ: City Officials Set to Launch New Rental Assistance Program

“People are pretty scared,” said Michelle Gilbert, legal and policy director with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

Gilbert says one of her clients had to leave her job to take care of her child when schools switched to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With that job loss, her income was reduced by more than $50,000.

“She was very worried about how she’s going to pay rent,” Gilbert said. “And she very consistently paid her rent on time up until she had to take the leave.”

Both tenants and landlords can apply for assistance. 

Carol Oshana, a real estate lawyer who works with landlords, said the application process can be laborious. She took on a case in Cook County with a landlord who was trying to get assistance for his 12-unit complex. Oshana said it was a lengthy process because some of the leases were expired.

“So you’ve got to create a lease for each and every tenant,” Oshana said. “And you had to submit their name, address, telephone number and email. And some don’t want to give you any information about them.”

There is also no guarantee that the applicant will get the grant, Oshana said.

By August, the eviction ban is set to be lifted in Illinois. Gilbert is hopeful these grants will be able to provide enough assistance to stave off a wave of evictions.

The program provides 15 months of rental assistance to cover past-due rent from the previous 12 months and three additional months for a total of no more than $25,000, according to city officials.

“It’s going to be the 12 months plus three months going forward, so it will cover June, July and August,” Gilbert said. “So if there’s an eviction case that should get dismissed.”

Oshana is also hopeful that an eviction wave will be avoided. She said her clients have been dealing with tenants who haven't lost their jobs, but aren’t paying rent due to the ban on evictions. So, once the ban is waved, tenants will start to pay rent to their current landlord or they’ll move, she said.

“A lot of people will start paying their rent,” Oshana said. “They probably won’t pay their current landlord, but they’ll jump ship and go to another apartment and start paying that one because they know they can get evicted.”

To find out more information about Chicago’s rental assistance, visit: Chicago.gov Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

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