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 Governor J.B. Pritzker has extended the Illinois eviction moratorium for most of the summer in 2020 (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 the following rent relief programs might be available to Chicago apartment dwellers:
The City of Chicago COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant
Chicago renters and mortgage holders will be eligible for another round of relief funds from the City of Chicago in August of 2020. The city’s Department of Housing has $33 million earmarked for the assistance program, with $20 million of it coming from federal stimulus funds. Renters can get as much as $3,000 in rental assistance grants if they apply for the upcoming lottery. Chicagoans can apply online for the grants through August 10 via the Chicago Housing Assistance Portal. To apply for the lottery, renters should be prepared to fill out an online form detailing their current housing status (renter, homeowner, or another situation) and the total monthly income for all persons in their household.
The new relief program is aiming to help 10,000 people in need of financial relief to help pay back rent or mortgages. Renters may recall there was an earlier lottery for $1,000 emergency rental assistance grants in April of 2020. The city was inundated with applications to that initial grant program and only 2,000 people were awarded one of the $1,000 grants out of 83,000 applicants.
The latest round of emergency housing assistance grants comes as the city is adopting new amendments to housing laws and Governor J.B. Pritzker has extended an Illinois eviction moratorium to run through late August of 2020. These measures are geared towards preventing an overwhelming number of evictions in the fall.
*Time-Sensitive: Applicants must apply by Monday, August 10, 2020*
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.