Cook County is soon launching its latest round of rental relief—worth $75 million and funded with American Rescue Plan dollars.
The first round of the county’s rental grant program—worth $20 million and launched in August of 2020—covered up to three months and were awarded by lottery. The second round, launched in March of 2021 and worth $73 million—could cover up to 12 months of missed rent and utility payments, and up to three months of future rent payments. Now, those who won assistance this past spring can ask for three more months of help.
Renters have made up the bulk of applicants to previous rounds: 10,652 applications came from tenants, and 6,684 came from landlords, the county says. A small number—606—came from tenant representatives. The average payout in past rounds has been $8,800. “This funding is eligible for any period of time beginning from March of last year . . . to the current date, and even three months out,” Susan Campbell, the county’s director of Planning & Development, said.
Those programs were key to staving off a crisis of homelessness in the suburbs, county officials said at a press conference announcing the latest Emergency Rental Assistance Program today.
Applications for this round will be accepted from Monday, Oct. 4 through Friday, Oct. 29. This round will offer up to 18 months of rent help and cover past and current utility bills, along with other housing expenses like relocation costs, security deposits, processing fees and temporary housing. County officials hope to let applicants know within two weeks if they’ve been approved and pay out the money within weeks of that if applicants get their support documentation in quickly.
Illinois’ moratorium on COVID-related evictions ends Oct. 3.
To qualify, applicants must live in suburban Cook County and meet the household annual income threshold—ranging from $52,200 for single-person households and up to $98,450 for eight-person households. Applicants must have proof of financial hardship due to COVID: lost income, cut hours, furlough, need to stay home because of risk of infection or child care or incurring significant COVID-related costs.
Rich Monocchio, the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Cook County in a release urged landlords to apply for programs like these before filing for an eviction. “We want to help landlords and tenants work out solutions to keep families in their homes while they wait on these crucial financial resources.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who announced yesterday she would be seeking a fourth term leading the county, confirmed a pilot guaranteed basic income program is still under consideration for her upcoming budget. Federal funding provides a “tremendous opportunity to, as the president says, build back better and I want to be part of that work.”
Preckwinkle is scheduled to introduce her budget next week.