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With Illinois' Eviction Moratorium Set To Expire, A Roseland Church Steps In With A Rental Assistance Program

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois' eviction moratorium is set to expire in less than a month, which means thousands of people who are behind in their rent could be forced to leave their homes.

But as CBS 2's Jim Williams reported Tuesday, one South Side church is spreading the word - rental assistance is available for those hurt by the pandemic.

The hotel where Monique Sanford works had a large number of canceled reservations this year, and she was furloughed. She couldn't pay her rent for a short time.

"First I prayed, and I contacted my landlord - and she was like, 'Have faith,'" Sanford said.

So Sanford came to the Allen Metropolitan CME Church in Roseland.

"This is for the tenant who's behind on their rent, or for some reason or another has had some COVID incident that they expect might keep them from paying their rent," said Rev. Eunita Rushing of Allen Metropolitan CME.

Rev. Rushing is supervising the rental assistance program at the church. Funds are provided by the State of Illinois, and the church is one of the sites where people can apply - and show they have lost income because of the pandemic.

"A person who has not been able to pay their rent for the last six, seven, eight months; 12, can get assistance," Rev. Rushing said. "They're really trying to prevent homelessness."

The church has been aggressive getting the word out. They have blanketed the neighborhood with fliers offering rental assistance but the program is available to anyone living in the state of Illinois."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the federal eviction moratorium to October, but attorney Michael J. Zink says Illinois' own moratorium - which Gov. JB Pritzker extended to Sept. 18 - will likely have precedence.

"It's a matter of weighing the two laws and specifically how it's applied and see which one would come out on top, and I think the Illinois moratorium is probably still going to be the governing law here in Illinois," Zink said.

That means tenants unable to pay rent face eviction in less than a month unless they get help.

"That's tragic to think that you would be evicted," said the Rev. Dr. David Bryant of Allen Metropolitan CME. "That's the most devastating thing to happen - not knowing where you're going to go."

Sanford was told assistance is on the way.

"I feel blessed, I feel happy, and I don't feel ashamed," she said.

The program is also helping with past-due utility payments.

The Allen Metropolitan CME Church is accepting applications five days a week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The church is located at 10946 S. Lowe Ave. and can be reached at (773) 568-1200.

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