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New $900 Million Coronavirus Recovery Programs Will Focus On Businesses, Rent Relief And More

Renters in Illinois will be eligible for $5,000 grants to cover rent expenses if they lost their jobs due to coronavirus.

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks at a press conference in May.
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CHICAGO — A new $900 million coronavirus recovery fund will help businesses and families get back on their feet across the state, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.

The program will help renters, businesses and Black and Brown communities, which have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, Pritzker said.

While every region of the state is on track to move to Phase 4 of Pritzker’s reopening plan, he said the effects of the pandemic — like shutting down businesses and putting people out of work — have proven devastating for many.

“The federal [Paycheck Protection Program] seems to have overlooked too many small businesses,” Pritzker said. “Today, I’m launching the Business Interruption Grants program … to help our smallest businesses all across the state get back on their feet as we begin to recover from this pandemic.”

The program will dole out $270 million in grants to small businesses that have suffered losses due to the pandemic. Small businesses can submit applications beginning Monday. Block Club will add the link to this story when it is available.

Businesses eligible for the first wave of grants are those that were heavily restricted or shut down early on in the pandemic. The program will see $20 million go to businesses in disproportionately impacted areas, $20 million to bars and restaurants that can’t offer outdoor service, $10 million to barbershops and salons and $10 million to gyms and fitness centers during the first wave of grants.

Another pool of grants will give $25 million to Illinois businesses that sustained property damage on or after May 25.

Two funds will also provide rental and mortgage assistance to people in need so they can stay in their homes, Pritzker said. Those programs won’t launch until August, though.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, will provide a $5,000 grant to tenants who, because of COVID-19, can’t afford rent. Through the end of the year, 30,000 renters will get the grants.

“Housing is vital and people are struggling,” Pritzker said. “For many people, weathering the crisis begins with keeping a roof over their family’s heads.”

A similar program aimed at homeowners struggling due to coronavirus will give about 10,000 people grants of up to $15,000 to help with mortgage payments.

In addition, the residential eviction ban has been extended through July 31.

Finally, the Department of Human Services will provide $32.5 million for programs aimed at fighting poverty during the pandemic in a variety of ways. That work is expected to help 73,000 people across Illinois by giving them stipends to rebuild businesses, providing food to food banks and giving funds to organizations to rebuild communities, among other things.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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