The economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fundamental role of housing in keeping families safe, stable and healthy. It also exposed the housing affordability crisis that existed well before the pandemic, as well as the widening disparities in access to safe and affordable housing, especially for low-income households and people of color.
In May 2020, the Illinois General Assembly directed over $329 million in federal aid from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to IHDA to provide direct assistance to struggling renters and homeowners. Over the next 60 days, IHDA worked with housing and community leaders, landlord associations, the Governor’s office, and members of the Illinois General Assembly to launch the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) and Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) programs to help renters and homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic. Illinoisans responded in record numbers, and IHDA was able to fund all eligible and complete applications, providing $230.6 million in rental assistance to 46,129 households and $98.5 million in mortgage payment assistance to 10,071 homeowners. Building on the state’s commitment to assist families and communities with the greatest needs, more than 67 percent of ERA funds and 50 percent EMA funds were awarded to applicants in zip codes that were disproportionately impacted by the health and economic effects of COVID-19, exceeding goals mandated by the Illinois General Assembly.
These programs bought critical time for 56,200 households as they sought to regain their financial footing and not have to worry about an impending eviction and foreclosure. In early 2021, employment rates began improving as the state continued to make progress under the Restore Illinois reopening plan. But we still had miles to go. Thousands of Illinois households still reported being behind on their rent payments and more support was needed to help families stay in their homes as the economy continued to recover.
Funded with more than $584 million in additional federal funding, IHDA launched the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) in May 2021 to provide vital support for renters and landlords who continued to experience financial hardships related to the pandemic. Several important changes were made to the program upon consultation with key stakeholders and elected officials in order to maximize program impact in vulnerable communities. ILRPP tenants could now receive assistance directly should their landlord choose not to participate, written leases were not required, and households could track the status of their application online throughout the review process.As the public health crisis led to layoffs, furloughs, and decreased business revenues, the housing cost burdens many families were already experiencing became unmanageable, and many households were suddenly facing housing insecurity. Though Illinois quickly enacted moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, further direct financial assistance was needed to support families who were accruing considerable amounts of back rent or missedmortgage payments after a COVID-19-related job or income loss.
By the end of 2021, IHDA’s rental assistance program was one of the first statewide programs in the country to fully disburse 100 percent of available funds. 63,964 renters living in 100 of Illinois’ 102 counties received assistance from ILRPP.
Programs of this size are massive undertakings only made possible by a myriad of public and private partners, all of whom worked together to help Illinois renters and homeowners stay safe at home in the midst of a pandemic. Together with our partners in state and federal legislature, providing community outreach and application assistance in underserved communities, and working in local units of government, IHDA created a nimble and coordinated response to an unprecedented housing need.
IHDA’s emergency housing assistance programs provided timely relief that allowed 120,164 households to stay safe and sheltered at home during the pandemic.
A detailed analysis of applications received, reviewed, and funded by IHDA is included in the fact books below:
• Illinois Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Programs Fact Book
• Illinois Rental Payment Program Round 1 Fact Book