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Eviction Tsunami Quelled, but Rent Still Will be Due

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Thursday, September 3, 2020   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- An anticipated eviction tsunami has been calmed temporarily, but that doesn't mean Illinois renters who have fallen behind are completely off the hook.

A new national eviction ban is in place through the end of the year for people unable to pay rent due to lost income because of the pandemic.

Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action Illinois, said COVID-19 has brought renewed attention to the long-standing issue of the lack of affordable housing, and said the moratorium is a move in the right direction.

"Obviously, at a time when we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible to stop the spread of the virus, it doesn't make sense from a public health perspective to be evicting people," Palmer said.

The measure only delays evictions, and tenants will need to pay their mounting back rent when the moratorium expires.

Housing advocates are calling on Congress to provide at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help prevent tenants and landlords from falling further into debt.

It's estimated at least half a million households in Illinois are struggling to pay rent because of lost income from COVID-19.

Palmer noted applications for the State of Illinois' rental assistance program far exceeded the amount of assistance available.

"So that's why we need the federal government to provide additional resources for rental assistance," Palmer said. "But also for expanded, extended unemployment insurance and also financial assistance for state and local governments to deal with their budget deficits."

The residential eviction moratorium is for people earning $98,000 or less, or households earning $198,000 or less who are at risk of homelessness if evicted.

Palmer said Illinoisans in need of housing-assistance resources can find help nearby.

"Find out who your local community action agency is, particularly outside of Chicago and Cook County, and they're really the best one-stop resource to help a person figure out what type of rental assistance or other financial resources are available to assist people," Palmer said.

Folks in Chicago can call 311 to inquire about rental assistance.

Trump administration officials are encouraging renters to attempt to make partial payments when they cannot afford to pay in full.


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