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Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) announced on Monday the opening of the state’s new Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) program to assist homeowners who have seen their income decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through the EMA program, IHDA will allocate grants up to $15,000 to help income-eligible homeowners who have struggled to make their mortgage payments as a result of the pandemic. Applications are now available at ema.ihda.org. IHDA expects to assist approximately 10,000 households before the end of the year.

“At a time when the connection between housing and health is clearer than ever, it is critically important that we keep families stably housed for individual well-being, public health and the recovery of our state’s economy,” the governor said. “My administration remains committed to doing everything we can to provide much-needed support for Illinois residents who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, which is why we created the largest state housing assistance programs in the nation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance program will provide critical support for our homeowners, giving them the time they need to regain their financial footing.”

The Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census found that over 1 in 10 Illinois homeowners have little-to-no confidence in making their mortgage payment in September. A single foreclosure costs the homeowner, servicer and local government nearly $80,000, adding additional strain to the housing cycle. Foreclosed homes also lower neighboring property values by up to 3.9 percent according to the Federal Reserve.


“Everyone suffers when a friend, family member or neighbor goes into foreclosure, and the pandemic has left too many families at risk of losing their homes,” said IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust. “The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is a vital opportunity for homeowners get the support they need during this difficult time, and I encourage those who have lost a job or seen their income decline as a result of COVID-19 to visit our application portal to apply today.”

Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program
Available Aug. 24, 2020, the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) will assist homeowners who have experienced a COVID-19-related loss of income resulting in past due mortgage balances sometime after March 2020. Approved applicants will receive up to $15,000 paid directly to their mortgage servicer. 

Assistance will cover the homeowner’s past due or forbearance balance and their regular mortgage payments through Dec. 30, 2020, or until the funding is exhausted, whichever comes first. Payments may include all escrowed first mortgage expenses including property taxes, insurance and certain fees. The assistance will be in the form of a grant and repayment will not be required. 

Applications for EMA will be accepted from Aug. 24 through Sept. 4. Due to anticipated high volume, the application window may close early. IHDA will use a third-party entity to select a pool of applications to be reviewed for eligibility. The program is expected to assist approximately 10,000 households. Apply online at: ema.ihda.org.

Homeowner Eligibility

  • Household adjusted gross income from 2019 tax return was at or below 120 percent of the area median income.
  • An adult member of the household has had a loss of income due to the COVID-19 crisis on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Homeowner’s mortgage was current through Febr. 29, 2020.
  • The mortgage is past due or in forbearance.

Financial assistance from the EMA program is funded through Illinois’ allocation of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March 2020. The CARES Act provided $3.5 billion in coronavirus relief funds to the State of Illinois to help residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic. 

In May, the Illinois General Assembly directed $396 million of this funding to IHDA to provide direct assistance to struggling renters and homeowners. The funding must be completely distributed by Dec. 30, 2020.

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