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Illinois Eviction Moratorium Officially Ends: Expert Says Not To Panic, But To Watch How Emergency Assistance Is Being Allocated

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Illinois moratorium on evictions officially ended Sunday, after COVID-19 halted tenants from being kicked out for several months.

As CBS 2's Steven Graves reported, this means authorities may now move ahead with physical evictions.

The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Gov. JB Pritzker to put evictions on hold for the past year and a half. But with the eviction lifted, struggling renters could be in jeopardy of losing housing – as some landlords fight for money to get owed.

Housing provider Ibn Abney now has the right to enforce evictions, hut it is not his focus.

"Eviction is always last resort," Abney said.

He, like so many others, is trying to recoup money lost from the months-long eviction moratorium. Allocations to state and county programs have failed.

"I've applied to programs six, seven months ago and I have yet to receive any funds," Abney said. "Haven't received any update."

We initially met Abney in May, when he was struggling to keep up the maintenance at his property.

"We're seeing a lot of deferred maintenance," he said at the time. "Roofs need to get repaired."

Seeing no money is frustrating, because Gov. JB Pritzker boasts more than $453,000 already distributed statewide. Chicago has distributed $34 million, and Cook County $64 million – with more on the way.

CBS 2 has reported in the past that one of the biggest snags is that to apply, detailed information needs to come from the renter and the housing provider.

That is hard if the line of communication is lacking.

"Hopefully they can reach some kind of a level of mutual appreciation that everybody's got to work together when a major crisis like this happens," said Michael Zink, a landlord-tenant attorney who handles eviction cases.

Zink said renters should not be in a state of panic.

"Don't panic. Speak with the landlord," he said. "With respect to housing providers, it's the same thing. If your tenant is falling behind on rent or has been quiet for a little while and haven't been communicated, reach out to them. See what's happening so you can reach a resolution or middle ground."

Zink said Monday most likely will not involve a large mass of evictions. He said it could still take weeks for sheriffs' departments to carry them out.

But the other peg of this is that both renters and landlords are applying for financial assistance. In Cook County, a new round of help starts on Monday – with $75 million available.

Those are federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan.

Zink said we will still need to keep an eye on how that money is allocated. Many tenants and housing providers are having issues, and some are still waiting on dollars months later – whether it be from the State of Illinois or the county.

Meanwhile, some questions remain - when will struggling applicants get money before it reaches eviction? Will those who apply a second time be approved?

"Ultimately, those comes out of Washington D.C., those rules, but I know locally, there are some state representatives trying to see if they can so called 'double-dip' because they're going to need it," Zink said.

For those like Abney, a first payment would be a start – as the road ahead to living comfortably will take some time.

We reached out to Gov. JB Pritzker's office for this story, but did not get a response late Sunday.

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