The COVID-19 health crisis has further amplified the need for emergency rental assistance as a means of helping tenants pay back rent to landlords and remain stably housed.
A new program administered by The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IDHA) called Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) was created to help tenants that have not been able to pay rent due to COVID-19. ERA can provide up to $5,000 to assist tenants in paying their rent. The money will be sent directly to landlords and can be used to cover the rent due between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
To be eligible, tenants must have a written lease, loss of income due to COVID-19, unpaid rent, and have below-average income. Applications will be online through the ERA Portal and will be open from August 10, 2020, through August 21, 2020, the portal may close earlier due to high demand, so we recommend tenants apply as soon as possible. Many organizations, including LCBH, have partnered with IHDA to help people apply. Call LCBH at (312) 347-7600 for more information and to get assistance determining if you are eligible. You can find more information about this fund on the Illinois Legal Aid Online website here.
In addition to the IHDA program, LCBH’s Court-Based Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) program connects renters facing eviction with up to $5,000 in State Homelessness Prevention Funds and provides free legal services.
An LCBH case manager screens households to determine eligibility to receive the funds and an LCBH attorney negotiates with landlords to agree to resolve the case. LCBH is able to help clients access the funds through a partnership with All Chicago and The Continuum of Care.
For a tenant to be eligible for CERA, they need to have experienced a short-term economic crisis. They need to have a landlord who’s willing to accept the money to pay off the tenant’s arrears and allow them to stay and live out the rest of their lease. They must be able to show that they can pay rent going forward after they receive emergency financial assistance.
To apply for CERA, a tenant can call 311 or 312-744-5000 and ask for "short-term help." If you have any housing concerns, please go to rentervention.com. You can also find information on rental assistance on Rentervention.