Chicago Tenants Behind on Rent? An Illinois Rental Assistance Program May Help in 2021

Illinois renters who need financial assistance may see relief from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) as it reopens a statewide rental payment assistance program on Monday, December 6, according to a press release from the IDHA. The Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) has set an aggressive timeline to distribute $250 million in rental assistance funds by the end of 2021; as IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust stated, “IHDA is committed to meeting the original timeline of disbursing rental assistance money to tenants and landlords in December.”

Grants of up to $25,000 will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of tenants who cannot pay their rent due to loss of income stemming from COVID-19 losses. Tenants and landlords can check their eligibility for this latest round of rental assistance funding against the following requirements:

- The house or apartment is located in Illinois and is the tenant's primary residence;
- Total gross income for the tenant's household is less than 80% Area Median Income* (AMI), adjusted for household size;
- Tenant's household has experienced direct or indirect financial hardship due to the pandemic (examples of hardship given by the IHDA on its website include: being laid off; employer’s business closure; reduction in work hours; loss of spousal/child support; inability to work due to COVID-19; having to stay home to care for children due to school/daycare closure; and tenant being able to work at a previous job due to the workplace's high risk of severe illness from COVID-19); and
- Households must have an unpaid rent balance, and household members are at risk of becoming homeless or facing housing instability.
Tenants and landlords may find more information about the application process and requirements on the ILRPP website.

Households earning less than 50 percent of AMI will be given priority in the application process according to IHDA, as will households where one or more members have been unemployed for at least 90 days. 

If tenants can meet their requirements, they may be eligible to receive assistance in 2021.

The IHDA asks that both tenants and landlords provide documentary evidence with their application for rental assistance from the State of Illinois. The documentation requirements are spelled out on the Illinois Housing Development Authority website. Tenants and landlords should be prepared to share proof of unpaid rent, identifying documents, and a copy of their current lease agreement. Proof of citizenship is NOT required, according to IHDA.

The IHDA claims that each submission is treated as a joint application between housing providers (landlords) and tenants who want to participate in this latest round of rental assistance. The IHDA indicates that it will not consider an application to be complete until both landlord and tenant complete their respective sections of the application.

Some tenants may wonder, "If I previously applied to receive assistance grants from the IHDA, am I still eligible this time around?" The answer provided by IHDA is yes, but if tenants did receive assistance in 2020, they might only be eligible to receive funds for missed rent during 2021 in this latest round of grants.

The State has disbursed $776 million in rental assistance since 2020. According to IHDA, $540 million has gone to tenants experiencing financial hardships related to the pandemic.

More Places for Chicago Tenants and Landlords to Apply for Rental Assistance Grants 

State funding for emergency rental assistance continues to be released through social services programs in various locales across the state. In Chicago, one such program is the All Chicago COVID-19 program. According to All Chicago’s website, landlords can create an account using their email addresses. Landlords will then need to provide lease agreements, rental arrears statements, and proof of ownership to apply for emergency rental assistance funds on the All Chicago website.  

The three main criteria for tenants seeking these emergency funds are listed on All Chicago’s website. They may ring familiar to landlords who have explored Illinois's other available rental assistance programs. These three criteria for All Chicago’s funds are 1) that the COVID-19 pandemic has financially impacted tenants; 2) tenants are experiencing housing instability; and 3) that tenant's household income is at or below 80% of the area median family income.  

According to All Chicago's website, eligible households may receive up to 15 months of assistance and/or $25,000 per household. 

According to figures published by HUD and posted on the City of Chicago’s website, 80% of the area median income for a single-member household is $52,200 and $59,650 for a 2-person household as of April 1, 2021. 

Disclaimer: Domu provides this page general information to the Chicago landlord-tenant community.  Domu is not a law firm. Domu is not offering legal advice here or anywhere on