March 31, 2020 Tenant Advice

Need Rent Help for Chicago Apartments During Coronavirus?

Chicago apartment renters, have you lost your job, gig work, or other income due to fallout of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? If so, there are numerous government and non-profit rent relief programs that will help you pay the rent in the short term. We hope that you’re soon returning to full employment, gloriously full gig-work schedules, or will otherwise recover your income soon – but in the meantime, take heart that Chief Judge Evans of the Cook County Circuit Court has placed a moratorium on new eviction orders until May 18 (meaning that your landlord will not be able to file to evict you before that date, even if you don’t pay the rent), and Sheriff Dart has suspended enforcement of current eviction orders until April 14. And the following rent relief programs might be available to Chicago apartment dwellers:

The City of Chicago COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant 

This program provides emergency housing assistance to those who can demonstrate a change in employment due to a layoff or furlough, reduction in hours, or other impact, due to Coronavirus. Applicants must submit documentation to support the claim, such as proof of filing for unemployment benefits, a recent pay-stub and notice from an employer or former employer, or other written indication of the changed employment status. Note that this program is available only to certain income brackets. For example, for households of one individual, the income limit is $37,440.

*Time-Sensitive: Applicants must apply by Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 11:59 P.M.*

Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund 

This fund is directing resources to community organizations that are providing services to individuals impacted by the economic ramifications of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you visit United Way of Metro Chicago, you can search for the type of services you need from an organization located in your community. For example, if you live in Avondale and need rent relief, a search on this page will direct you to Renaissance Social Services, which is advertising a rent assistance program. If you live in Bronzeville, the website will direct you to additional agencies offering rent assistance, including Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Chicago Urban League, and Housing Opportunity for Women.

Catholic Charities of Chicago 

This organization provides emergency assistance to paying bills and basic human needs. The program assists families in Chicago apartments regardless of their religion. Call 773-583-9224 to determine your eligibility.

Homelessness Prevention Call Center 

This call center may also be able to help if you were already facing eviction prior to Sheriff Dart’s COVID-19 moratorium on enforcement of eviction orders, which is scheduled to last until late April of 2020. Call 312-744-5000 and ask for Short-Term Help to determine whether you are eligible for other emergency financial assistance.

Are There Any Other Ways Renters Can Get Relief from the Government?

If you're ineligible for the programs mentioned above, you might be eligible for a stimulus payment from the U.S. government by April 17. The government intends to transfer funds to individuals via direct deposit to the bank accounts that tax-filers provided with their 2019 or 2018 returns. Single adults with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less are likely to receive $1,200. If your parents still claim you as a dependent, however, then you might not receive a payment.

Can Renters Ask Landlords to Delay or Skip Rent Payments During Coronavirus?

If you're unable to pay the rent in your Chicago apartment because of Coronavirus-related shut-downs, call your landlord to begin a conversation. Your landlord might have financial obligations of their own – like mortgage or tax payments – and might not have tremendous flexibility. But chances are that if your landlord has the ability to discount or defer the rent in the short-term to keep you as a tenant in the long-term, the landlord will try to help. Even the landlords who are being pressured for rent relief by organized tenants' rights groups have indicated that they are willing to try to work out terms with tenants who approach them individually, even if they are unwilling to negotiate with tenant blocks or other activists calling for rent strikes.