It’s a tough figure.
More than 100,000 Illinois residents told a recent U.S. census they feared eviction or foreclosure of their homes in the next two months – a result likely of the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
With hundreds of complaints filed in court, a last-minute order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict evictions could be a dam holding back a tide of housing insecurity across the state.
Housing advocates say NBC 5 responds that it has been easy to “write off” those suffering from housing insecurity for so long, but now the problem is getting the attention it should have had all along.
State officials and attorneys said many people in Illinois find themselves in a scenario they have never experienced before: they must face the maze of procedures and trials in eviction courts as they seek to find both financial and legal assistance to order to keep them afloat.
Resources are available, and NBC 5 Responds has a full guide on how to find help below.
For many who have been unemployed for more than a year due to COVID-19, however, proponents fear they are too far behind and government support is their only option.
“If you lose a year’s income, you can’t create a payment plan,” said Michelle Gilbert, legal director of the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing (LCBH). “You are too retarded.”
The LCBH is one of many organizations providing free remedies to tenants faced with one of the most extreme challenges yet: fear of homelessness. Gilbert said that resources are readily available – for both landlords and tenants – they just need to know where to look.
“I am so confident that a tenant who is in trouble will hear this and seek help,” said Gilbert.
Status on evictions in Illinois and the order of the CDC
Karla Chrobak is one of many attorneys who are essentially at the forefront of this inevitable conflict over housing insecurity in Chicago and across the state.
As two dueling state and federal eviction moratoriums expired in early August, Chrobak said the office phones of her nonprofit CARPLS began ringing.
carp offers free remedies for renters and landlords, and Chrobak said they saw a slight increase in callers expressing the same emotion.
“High anxiety, high stress and difficulty navigating,” said Chrobak. But a new eviction moratorium order from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) changed things.
“The current state of affairs at the federal level is that evictions can only be carried out on October 3rd,” explains Chrobak.
August 3rd the director of the CDC has signed an order Preventing evictions until October, adding that evictions by that time would be “detrimental to public health control measures” to halt the spread of COVID-19 and the nascent Delta variant.
While the moratorium prevents eviction orders from being enforced, an Illinois Supreme Court ruling still allows landlords to file the orders. And tenants will have to fill out a declaration form to stop the process, Chrobak said. (Click here for a link to the declaration form and more information from the Illinois Attorney General.)
“[The Supreme Court order] allows evictions to be filed but not to enter an evacuation warrant until this kind of cooling off period where people give them time to mediate a situation in order to avoid eviction, which is everyone’s goal, âsaid Chrobak.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Better Living (LCBH) had pursued Eviction filings in every Chicago parish and parish until a state order is enforced sealing eviction records (a move the LCBH advocated for tenants). From January 1, 2021 to May 8, 2021, the tracker counted more than 1,200 eviction registrations across Chicago.
But the numbers in the city and across the country could be higher, proponents say.
Last month that US Census Bureau released the latest results of its Household Pulse Survey. In it, over 109,000 Illinois residents said they believed it likely they would face eviction in the next two months. More than 19,000 said they felt it was likely that their home would be foreclosed.
With many still unemployed and months of rent arrears, Chrobak of CARPLS believes there is only one thing that will calm the waters: cash.
“Really, the solution is an infusion of money,” said Chrobak. âLet’s be honest. That will solve that problem. “
Rental assistance and legal resources for tenants and landlords
Chrobak and Gilbert, who work with landlords and tenants on a daily basis, said one thing is certain: Finding resources for eviction is “overwhelming” for most people.
Part of the reason for this is that there are many different options for financial assistance with rent.
A group of nonprofit legal organizations employ both resources. The COVID Help website even offers a chat option for anyone facing legal issues related to the pandemic or for homeowners who are concerned about not being able to pay their mortgage.
When it comes to financing federal and state rental subsidies, there is a lot of money available.
In May, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the state had $ 1.5 billion in rental subsidies and was ready to be disbursed through multiple organizations.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is responsible for the 2021 rent payment program. A spokesperson told NBC 5 Responds that the application window is closed and that their office is reviewing more than 96,000 applications from tenants requesting more than $ 915 million in assistance.
The IHDA said it has so far approved $ 210 million for disbursement, but officials believe the state “should have enough”. [funding] to cover loss of rent caused by COVID-19. “
Chrobak told NBC 5 Responds that the application process went smoothly, but “the problem here is the backlog in paying out the money to the tenant and landlord.”
For those who missed the application window for the rental payment program, a state spokesman said there is another rental support program through the Illinois Department of Human Services (click here for more information on these resources).
Chrobak pointed out that some people she has worked with are not aware of this IDHS program, but that it requires referral to a social welfare agency.
NBC 5 Responds asked IDHS for the latest numbers on approved claims and payments made. A spokesman said the information was not immediately available and required a formal Freedom of Information Act request.
Chrobak said she hoped the current housing insecurity crisis will raise awareness of a social rift that has always been there and that affects everyone – not just those facing eviction or foreclosure.
“When we have a situation where people are homeless, there is a greater risk of spreading COVID in the community,” Chrobak said. “I hope this will bring awareness to everyone in the wider community of the affordable housing crisis.”
Full list of resources
NBC 5 Responds has compiled the full list of resources below for renters and landlords facing issues due to COVID-19.
COVID AID Illinois
WHAT DOES IT OFFER ?: COVID Help Illinois is a free online resource for eviction, housing and other legal issues caused by the pandemic. The site staff say it is available 24/7 to anyone residing in the state of Illinois.
Evacuation Assistance Illinois
Online and telephone resource
WHAT DOES IT OFFER ?: Proponents said this hotline is a government-funded network of 16 nonprofits that are providing free legal assistance, intermediary services, and connections to other resources, including rental assistance, in response to the eviction crisis. These services are funded through a partnership between the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.
Illinois Rental Assistance Provider Network
WHAT DOES IT OFFER ?: This website features resources that are available throughout the state of Illinois, including resources that are still accepting rental assistance requests. The website is operated by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).
Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt Early Resolution Program
Online and telephone resource
TELEPHONE (for Cook County residents): 855-956-5763
WHAT DOES IT OFFER ?: The Early Resolution Program (ERP) includes free legal assistance, mediation services, and connections to other resources, including rental assistance. Mediation is a way for landlords and tenants or debtors and creditors to solve problems with the help of a knowledgeable and neutral person.
Do you have a consumer complaint? Call 1-844-NBC-RESP or let us know here so we can help.