Demand for Rental Assistance in Chicago Outstrips Available Funds as End to Eviction Ban Looms

A residential street in Wicker Park in Chicago. (WTTW News)A residential street in Wicker Park in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Approximately 26,850 Chicagoans who lost their jobs or found their paychecks scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic applied for $137 million in grants designed to stave off a wave of evictions and keep the lights on across Chicago, officials said Monday.

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However, city officials have only $80 million available in this round of assistance, which means thousands of Chicagoans could be out of luck. The program administered by the Chicago Department of Housing will provide 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.

Chicagoans applied for $24.2 million in grants to pay their utility bills, officials said.

“The number of applications and the aid being requested by landlords and renters demonstrate how many are still in need of assistance 18 months after the onset of the pandemic,” Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara said in a statement. “While the current aid requested surpasses our current funding capacity, we will help as many as possible and look to open another round of assistance later this year.”  

The city’s application period ended June 15.

Tenants whose landlords have not applied for help can also apply for rental assistance from the state starting at 9 a.m. June 28, and have until midnight July 18 to complete their portion of the application, officials said.

The state’s ban on evictions is set to expire in August, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. 

In all, state officials plan to send $1.1 billion to Illinois renters and landlords in an effort to prevent evictions. A separate program, which has not yet launched, will offer $400 million in mortgage assistance to homeowners, officials said.

A Chicago law will automatically extend the ban on evictions in the city for an additional two months after the state’s ban is lifted, officials said.

More than 83,000 Chicagoans applied for the first round of rental assistance grants from the city in March 2020. However, since the city had just $2 million available, only 2,000 people won a lottery for the $1,000 grants.

A second round of grants offered up to $3,000 to help residents pay their rent or mortgages.

Approximately 21,000 households in Chicago could be evicted from their rental homes once the ban is lifted, according to a forecast released in December by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing and the Center for Urban Research & Learning at Loyola University. 

A recent survey by the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance found that Chicago housing providers have not been paid $1 billion in rent since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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