Cook County officials announced on Thursday the launch of a $72.8 million rental and utility assistance program to help suburban Cook County residents experiencing financial and housing insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is funded by the Bipartisan-Bicameral Omnibus COVID Relief legislation passed in late 2020. It pays up to 12 months of missed rent and utility payments and up to three months of future rent payments.
The program is designed for suburban Cook County renters and landlords.
Payments will be made directly to landlords on behalf of tenants, and amounts will vary on need, family size, and eligibility.
“We are proud to be working with the Housing Authority of Cook County and the more than 40 housing partners and community-based organizations to support this effort," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "Many of our residents are already struggling and we want to make sure those who have been disproportionally impacted are aware of the support systems and resources available to assist them during this time.
“We believe housing is a human right, and we’re doing everything we can in this moment to make sure our most vulnerable residents remain in their homes during this difficult time.”
The funding will be available to renter households with incomes less than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) who have unpaid rent balances charged during the pandemic; qualify for unemployment; have experienced a reduction in household income; or demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability.
Preference will be given to households at or below 50% AMI; and/or households with an individual unemployed for the 90 days prior to application. Recipients cannot be a participant in federally-subsidized Public Housing, project-based Rental Assistance, or Housing Choice voucher programs.
The funds will be administered by the Housing Authority of Cook County, the principal provider of publicly subsidized housing in suburban Cook County.
Residents can review their eligibility and apply for rental assistance at www.cookcountyil.gov/recovery.
The application period opened March 11 and will close on April 2.
Applications are available through the online portal in many languages including Spanish, Polish, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and Hindi.