Launching in April 2021, the goal of the program is to keep families stably housed, ensure tenants and landlords are financially secure, and prevent a tide of evictions due to COVID-19.
The program will provide a combination of emergency financial assistance, legal assistance, case management, and community outreach, to address housing crises for Illinois residents.
The program is a multiagency collaboration between IDHS, IHDA, DCEO, and many nonprofit frontline service providers across the state.
What is at Stake?
IDHS estimates that there are approximately 414,000 vulnerable households that are experiencing housing insecurity in Illinois. We estimate that 60,000 of these households are vulnerable to eviction in 2021. This is triple the number of evictions in Illinois in 2019, demonstrating the potential for a significant increase in COVID-19 related evictions. Housing insecurity precipitated by COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on low-income Illinois renters, disabled renters, veterans, and renters of color.
Who is eligible?
Illinois residents who are renters and have a household income at or below 80% AMI are eligible. One or more individuals in the household must have experienced a COVID-19 related hardship, including having qualified for unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 outbreak. Households are also eligible if one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Individuals must provide documentation.
- Emergency Financial Assistance
The emergency rental assistance program is broken into two categories, one operated by IHDA and the other operated by IDHS. The IDHA Illinois Rental Payment Program is for households with income at 80% AMI or below, with a priority or households earning up to 50% AMI, or households with a member unemployed for at least 90 days prior. The program can provide rental assistance for up to 15 months. IHDA distributes rental assistance payments directly to participants. Rental assistance through IDHS is supported by Continuum of Care service providers, including faith based organizations, community based service providers, Immigrant and Refugee Welcoming Centers, and Legal Aid and Mediation Partners. Funds will be distributed to partners, who will distribute rental assistance to tenants who qualify for assistance. The majority of funds will be used for direct payment of emergency rental assistance, rental arrears, and utility and home energy costs/arrears.
- Legal Assistance
The legal assistance component of the program will provide a suite of resources for participants to utilize, depending on where they are in eviction proceedings. These include a central intake and needs assessment, eviction prevention tools and resources, know your rights trainings/resources, virtual legal clinics, direct legal representation, mediation, and courtroom access to rental assistance.
- Case Management
Case management services will be administered through Homeless Continuums of Care. Case management will be focused on individuals at or below 80% AMI. The goal of the case management services is to address barriers to housing stability, connect tenants with community and health care resources, and increase access to financial counseling and legal referral services. This will serve as a complement to the rental assistance through the Continuum of Care network, and go beyond the financial assistance to further address the causes of housing insecurity.
- Community Outreach
Led by IDHS and IHDA, community outreach is a core component of the program. With an emphasis on reaching Black and Latinx communities most impacted by COVID-19 throughout Illinois, trusted members of the community will be supporting community navigation and outreach. The goal is to ensure that renters know the services they have access to an how to best utilize them. There will be a public relations campaign throughout the state to ensure that tenants and providers are aware of the program and how to access it.