By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
The application portal is now open for another $297 million of rental assistance for Illinoisans who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illinois Rental Payment Program, or ILRPP, money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. It will be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
The application portal is available at illinoishousinghelp.org. To be eligible, a tenant must have an unpaid rent balance on a rental property which is their primary residence. They must have experienced a financial hardship due to the pandemic, have a household income below 80 percent of the Area Median Income and must be an Illinois resident.
Proof of citizenship is not required, and assistance is available for renters of state- or federally-subsidized housing.
The portal for the latest round of funding will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 9. IHDA said it expects that 32,500 households will receive assistance through this round of funding. Approved applicants will receive one-time grants of up to $25,000, paid directly to their landlords on their behalf, and IHDA said it would begin releasing funding by the end of the year.
The launch date was pushed back one month from the initial November date announced by Gov. JB Pritzker so that the portal could undergo additional testing. A spokesperson for IHDA said the portal had already received more than 3,000 applications Monday and the department no longer had any concerns about its ability to handle the load after working through technical issues over the past month.
Rent owed from June 2020 through April 2022 is eligible for repayment, with renters able to receive up to 15 months of back rent and three months of future rent. If a landlord chooses not to participate in the program, tenants may be able to receive payments directly, according to IHDA.
A renter may still apply if they have previously received federal rental assistance, but they cannot cumulatively receive more than 18 months of assistance. IHDA said it would adjust grant amounts for those who have already received partial assistance.
IHDA said it would prioritize households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income and those that have one or more members who have been unemployed for at least 90 days.
The latest round of federal rental assistance is the third distributed by the state.
More than 62,400 applications were approved and $571 million paid out to renters throughout the state in the previous round. According to IHDA, about 55 percent of approved applications were from households where a member had been unemployed for more than 90 days, and the program provided an average of $9,152 per household.
More than $800 million has been distributed by the state for rental assistance since 2020, helping 108,500 Illinoisans with back rent. According to the latest report from the U.S. Treasury outlining distribution of the previous rounds of rental funding, Illinois had distributed over 90 percent of funds received thus far.
“The initial round of the Illinois Rental Payment Program highlighted the continued need for assistance as we continue our recovery from this terrible pandemic,” IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust said in a statement. “As we reopen this vital assistance program to help Illinois families, seniors and the most vulnerable, Gov. Pritzker is continuing to work with (the U.S.) Treasury and our elected officials to advocate for additional funding to ensure no one is forced from their home as a result of COVID-19.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services also has rental assistance available, and assistance is also available through a court-based program. IDHS also provides utility and legal assistance, which can be accessed at https://www.illinoisrentalassistance.org/.
The state is also preparing to launch a Homeowner Assistance Fund program to distribute federal resources for mortgage assistance in the spring. Information on that program is also available at illinoishousinghelp.org, where those seeking mortgage assistance can sign up for a mailing list for program updates when they are available.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.