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

The State of Illinois announced that it will offer another round of rental payment assistance for tenants who've fallen behind on rent due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 Illinois Rental Payment Program's website indicates that the State will receive applications from tenants or landlords beginning May 17, 2021. According to the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), renters who apply for assistance through the ILRPP emergency rental assistance portal may be eligible to receive up to 15 months of rental assistance. This site also states that tenants who apply through the program may receive funds to cover 12 months of past due rent and up to three months of future assistance on rent payment, if needed; and that the cap for individual grants is $25,000. Funds will be disbursed directly to housing providers, i.e. landlords, if and when applications are approved.

Criteria for the latest round of rental assistance grants in Illinois listed on the site are the following:
- Tenants are behind on rent for at least 30 days;
- The house or apartment is located in Illinois and is the renter's primary residence;
- Total gross income for the tenant’s household is less than 80% Area Median Income* for that location;
- Household has experienced direct or indirect financial hardship due to the pandemic (examples of hardship given by the IHDA 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/day care closure, and unable to work at previous job due to the workplace's high risk of severe illness from COVID-19); and
- Tenants are at risk of becoming homeless or facing housing instability.
If renters are able to meet their requirements, then they may be eligible to receive assistance in 2021.

The IHDA asks tenants and landlords to both provide documentary evidence if they apply for rental assistance from the state of Illinois. These documentation requirements are spelled out on the Illinois Housing Development Authority website ( Renters and landlords should be prepared to share proof of unpaid rent, identifying documents, and a copy of their current lease agreement.

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 grants. The IHDA indicates that it will not consider an application to be complete until both landlord and tenant complete their 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 may only be eligible to receive funds for missed rent during 2021 in this latest round of grants.

* According to the Chicago’s Department of Housing, as an example, 80% Area Median Income for a Chicago household of 1 was $52,200 as of April 1, 2021.


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