By Brittany Garzillo, Fox 32 News
Many Chicagoans are struggling to make rent during the coronavirus pandemic.
With May 1st just days away, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday a new initiative to ease the financial burden on homeowners and renters.
It is called the “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge.” Mayor Lightfoot says it is the first of its kind in the nation, and an effort aimed at preventing and minimizing evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic.
“I want Chicago’s renters and homeowners to know that we hear you and we are working to do everything that we can at the local level to get you the support that you need,” the mayor said.
Leaders from across Chicago’s city government, residential housing groups, landlord associations and lenders are pledging to provide relief to renters and mortgage borrowers who have experienced significant financial impact during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We at the Department of Housing polled some of our affordable housing providers and they reported decreases in rent collection as high as 61-percent in the month of April,” said Commissioner Marisa Novara.
The “Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge” calls for landlords to include a grace period for rent payments and no late fees for missed payments, as well as creating repayment plans in writing to allow renters who have missed rent payments to spread out the repayment over time.
“Renters are being hit up to 10 times harder than homeowners, in part because about half of the jobs that have been at the highest risk of being lost during this time are low paying jobs,” Novara said.
For housing lenders it means establishing on a case-by-case basis measures like a grace period for mortgage payments, suspension of foreclosures, neutral reporting to credit agencies, and not imposing late fees for missed payments.
“We can’t mandate that it happen, but I think the moral imperative that has been expressed by every single speaker, who has come to this podium, hopefully will prick the consciousness of everybody, including landlords to step up and say, ‘I can do better’,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor also noted that those who can still afford to make payments should.
This article originally appeared on Fox 32 News.