The number of Cook County families forced from their homes by an eviction order fell 64% in the first five months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifted a ban on evictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 as compared with the same period before the pandemic swept Illinois.
That drop came even as the number of eviction court filings from the owners of both residents and commercial properties rebounded significantly once the ban was lifted in October 2021 after being in place since March 2020, according to the data obtained by WTTW News.
The number of eviction court cases filed by landlords between October 2021 and March 2022 dropped 6% as compared with the number of eviction court cases between October 2019 and March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted nearly every aspect of life in Illinois.
However, the number of evictions that were actually carried out in Cook County dropped precipitously, from more than 3,300 in the five months before the pandemic to fewer than 1,200 in the five months after the eviction ban was lifted, according to the data.
Before the pandemic, 25% of all eviction court cases resulted in a court order that was carried out, according to the data obtained by WTTW News. After the pandemic, 9% of court cases ended with an eviction order being carried out by Cook County Sheriff’s deputies.
Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle said that drop was the result of a concerted effort by officials to prevent evictions by speeding cash assistance and legal help to those at greatest risk of being evicted, fueled by millions from the federal government in 2020 and 2021.
Officials said the centerpiece of that effort was Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt, a county‐wide initiative designed to stop evictions and help those facing losing their homes.
“We don't often have such stark numbers to prove the disproportionate success of critical safety net programs, but we do here — despite the number of evictions filed during the pandemic, there were fewer residents displaced than before the pandemic began,” said Cook County Board Commissioner Scott Britton (D-14.)