Pritzker extends moratorium as deadline expires
Crusader Staff Report
Two days before the state’s moratorium on evictions expired, Governor J.B. Pritzker extended the order for another month after concerns of a housing crisis during a pandemic were voiced by activists and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
The moratorium was scheduled to expire August 22, but landlords can resume filing evictions on Monday, September 21. While the new deadline adds more temporary comfort to renters, there is still concern about the future of hundreds of thousands of tenants during a pandemic that’s expected to continue into 2021.
Pritzker extended the state’s moratorium on evictions for another 30 days last week while activists continued to demand officials lift the ban on rent control.
Days before Pritzker extended the moratorium, Dart wrote a letter to the governor requesting an extension on the moratorium. Dart said at least 250,000 tenants and homeowners who were behind on their rent and mortgage were in danger of losing their homes. Dart was concerned that mass evictions would add to a spiraling health crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you have a pandemic, the last thing you want is filling up shelters, filling up houses with people. You want people separated,” Dart said. “This is the last possible thing you want to happen during a pandemic.”
Dart said there still needs to be options if evictions resume.“This has to be a well thought out plan, or there is going to be a tsunami of evictions that will devastate communities and further the pandemic,” he said.
The announcement came as activists staged a live-in at Daley Plaza, demanding officials lift the ban on rent control. They are grateful the moratorium is extended, but want long-term solutions to address housing insecurity.
“August 22 will not be the last day when the moratorium expires,” said State Representative Delia Ramierz (IL-4). “We know 30 days is not enough. We will continue to work to ensure tenants will be able to stay in their homes.”
“Obviously people aren’t working, they can’t pay their bills, they can’t pay their rent,” said Jonathan Wilson, Chicago Teachers Union. “They can’t pay these things and they shouldn’t be penalized for that.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had announced the Extended Application Deadline for the $20 million COVID-19 Recovery Rental Assistance Program for Residents.
The applications were accepted through Monday, August 24, at 4:00 p.m. The decision to extend the program came after recent weather scenarios that left portions of the County’s residents without power, internet and other vital services.
“In addition to the ongoing Cook County emergency support, it is important to ensure a fair opportunity for residents to take full advantage of the critical Cook County relief services – such as our Rental Assistance program,” said Preckwinkle.
The launch of a $20 million rental assistance program is part of the County’s ongoing efforts to provide financial relief to renters impacted during the pandemic. Applicants have an opportunity to apply to receive up to three months of rental assistance. Payments will be made directly to landlords on behalf of tenants.
The funding was available to renter households with incomes under 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) who had unpaid rent balances charged during the pandemic. Additionally, 25 percent is targeted at what is called Disparately Impacted Areas. Using the County’s equitable distribution model, 25 percent was committed to the hardest-hit communities throughout suburban Cook County to ensure direct assistance is available to help residents.