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10,000 More Chicagoans Can Get Rent, Mortgage Relief After City Expands Grant Program

More than 83,000 people applied for the first round of grants, which only reached 2,000 applicants.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot answers questions at a press conference on March 20 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is giving rent and mortgage assistance to another 10,000 households in Chicago that have been impacted by coronavirus.

When the program started early in the pandemic, 83,000 people applied — but the city only had enough funding to give out about 2,000 grants. Now, it’s infused $33 million more into the program, which officials said will help an estimated 10,000 families or households prevent being evicted.

More information on the program is available through a new Chicago Housing Assistance Portal online. Residents can apply through the portal or in person at one of six community centers through Aug. 10.

“Housing insecurity is a core symptom of the crushing poverty and economic hardship that has crippled Chicago’s families for generations,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at Monday news conference. “Now, with COVID-19, more families than ever are at risk of losing their homes.”

The grants are available for renters facing eviction due to the pandemic, providing up to six months of rental assistance support, officials said. The city will also provide eviction counseling for low- and moderate-income renters.

For homeowners, up to $3,300 in mortgage assistance is available to nearly 1,000 families struggling due to coronavirus. Those grants will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Those eligible for mortgage assistance must have been current on their payments before the pandemic but are now struggling and their household income cannot exceed 120 percent of the area median income. There will be charts to help people determine if they are eligible, officials said.

People who applied for the first round of grants and were shut out will be rolled into the latest round of applications, officials said. The grants will not need to be repaid.

Applications for mortgage assistance grants will open noon Aug. 3 and remain open until the funding is exhausted.

The money for the programs comes from a combination of federal CARES Act funding, philanthropic donations and other sources.

In March, the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Initiative offered $2 million in city-funded grants to applicants. The city was flooded with applications, and the money quickly ran out.

“The first round of COVID-19 Housing Assistance showed us how deep the need is across all neighborhoods in Chicago,” said Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara. “We have been working to find additional resources to assist those financially impacted by the pandemic, and these new funds will go a long way in stabilizing the lives of residents during these challenging times.” 

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