President Preckwinkle, the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) announced an additional $6.643M in funds for Emergency Rental Assistance to continue to support residents of suburban Cook County who are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability due to the pandemic.
The County’s program has ranked among the most efficient in the nation and quickly delivered much-needed relief to tenants and landlords alike. Administered by the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) and the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development, the initial round of rental assistance distributed $65.5 million of CARES Act funding in rent and utility bill relief.
A second round, launched in October 2021 with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), delivered an additional $66 million, this time including up to 3 months of future rent as well as compensation for related housing expenses. In total, over $130 million in rental assistance has been distributed by the County and hundreds of millions more has been administered by the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago to assist Cook County renters and landlords in need.
“This is a crucial extension of our Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which has provided aid to over 17,000 households during this difficult time. It was a top priority for the County to continue this program and make critical improvements, such as covering relocation, security deposits, and other housing-related expenses that our residents so desperately need,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The program last accepted applications in October 2021 and received more applications than available funding at the time could fulfill. Due to the County’s strong performance in distributing the original ERA rounds of funding, the U.S. Department of Treasury re-allocated funding from other areas in the Country to assist people who still need support. These additional funds will be allocated to applicants already in the County’s application portal – the program is not currently taking new applications.
“Cook County’s Emergency Rental Assistance has been one of the most successful programs of its kind in the nation,” states Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development of Cook County. “This program has been instrumental in providing direct rental assistance, preventing evictions and helping ensure our residents can maintain a stable home, even in the face of unprecedented financial hardships caused by the pandemic.”
From October 2019 through March 2020, prior to the pandemic-related eviction moratorium which began on March 20, 2020, nearly 25 percent of eviction filings ended in an eviction enforced by the Sheriff’s office, meaning the Sheriff’s office dispatched deputies to enforce the judge’s order. In contrast, between October 2021 and the end of March 2022, after the expiration of the moratorium, less than 10 percent of eviction filings have resulted in the court ordering the Sheriff to enforce an eviction.
“From the beginning of the pandemic our number one priority has been to prevent evictions,” said Rich Monocchio, HACC’s Executive Director. “We ensured that families who had already received an eviction notice were the first to receive aid, as well as our lowest-income households. Timely rental assistance has been a key component of the County’s mission to prevent evictions during this crisis.”
In terms of eviction filings, from October 2019 through March 2020 there were 13,250 eviction cases initiated in the court with a total of 3,301 enforced. As noted above, eviction filings stopped being accepted and enforced by the courts on March 20, 2020 due to the eviction moratorium. In contrast, from October 2021 through March 2022, there were 12,358 eviction cases initiated in the court with a total of 1,181 enforced. This represents a comparative 64% total decrease in evictions and includes both residential and commercial evictions initiated in Cook County.
“I would not have been able to see clearly and stand tall if it wasn’t for the financial help I received from the Emergency Rental Assistance,” said Melanie Marshall, a past ERA participant. “I would like to personally thank those who have been working through these tough times in the office, on the front lines, for they too have struggles that require support. We must remember together we stand.”
These additional funds will also assist the County as it transitions from emergency rental payments to funding court-based eviction relief.
Residents and landlords dealing with issues surrounding evictions and debt are also encouraged to contact Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) at www.cookcountylegalaid.org or by calling 855-956-5763 to get free legal aid and mediation services to help resolve issues.