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State Of Illinois Has Paid Out More Than $252 Million Through Illinois Rental Payment Program To Help Tenants Struggling During Pandemic

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker's office and the Illinois Housing Development Authority announced Thursday that the state has paid out more than $252 million in rental assistance to help almost 29,500 tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding came through the Illinois Rental Payment Program, which began in May 2021. The program provides up to $25,000 in financial assistance, which is paid directly to landlords to cover missed rent payments going back to June 2020.

A total of $500 million is available in the rental assistance pool, and more than 50 percent of that sum has been paid out. The state said Illinois continues to be one of the highest providers of rental assistance among all state grantees as measured by the U.S. Treasury Department.

This is in addition to more than $230 million given to renters in 2020 through the state's inaugural pandemic rental assistance program.

"Having a roof over your head is the foundation of a thriving life, and Illinois is fiercely combatting the pandemic's destabilizing effects on that foundation by keeping our residents on their feet," Gov. Pritzker said in a news release. "As the need for assistance only grows more urgent, we are proudly one of the top states in the nation at getting dollars out to those in need. With over $250 million out the door and millions more on the way, we won't stop until we can make a difference for every family possible."

"Far too many people are facing housing insecurity and the risk of homelessness, especially during this pandemic," Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton added in the release. "Illinois continues to stand with those in need, building on existing resources and assistance to ensure that the state's most vulnerable residents keep a roof over their head."

The Illinois Rental Payment Program provides up to a year of past-due rent and up to three months of future rent payments. To date, the program has received about 98,865 applications from renters and landlords, has approved 29,433 applications, and has paid out more than $252.5 million.

Meanwhile earlier this week, Pritzker's office said the Illinois eviction moratorium will be extended.

On Tuesday, Governor's office press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh told CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker that when the current executive order banning evictions ends on Sept. 18, it will be extended to Oct. 3.

Gov. Pritzker first ordered a moratorium on most evictions in Illinois in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting many renters at risk of being kicked out of their homes because they were losing income and unable to pay their bills.

The governor amended his executive order in November 2020, providing more protections to landlords, by limiting the moratorium only to renters who have earned no more than $99,000 in annual income -- or $198,000 as joint filers. The updated eviction moratorium also required tenants to submit a declaration form to their landlords, certifying they can't pay rent due to substantial loss of income or increase in out-of-pocket expenses. Renters also were required to make their best efforts to make timely partial payments.

For those who missed the window to apply for assistance through the Illinois Housing Development Authority, the Illinois Department of Human Services is now accepting rental assistance applications until funding runs out

Those looking for help should contact an IDHS provider agency, which will determine eligibility and help people apply. A list of provider agencies – and organizations that will help with utility bills, free legal aid, and other services can be found here.

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