Homes along Avenue C near 106th Street in Chicago’s East Side on Aug. 3, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Time is running out to sign up for a pandemic program which provides thousands of dollars to help homeowners keep up with their housing payments.

The Illinois Homeowner Assistance Fund, run by the state’s housing development authority, offers up to $60,000 for overdue housing costs.

In order to receive the money, applicants must:

  • Own a home in Illinois and live in it as their primary residence.
  • Be past due on their mortgage loans, property taxes, property insurance payments and/or condo or homeowners association fees.
  • Have a household income at or below 150 percent of the area median income, which is about $165,450 for a family of four.
  • Have experienced a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 that began, continued, or worsened after Jan. 21, 2020.

The money is a grant and does not have to be repaid. Proof of citizenship is not required to apply for and receive the money.

If approved, the money is paid directly to the homeowner’s mortgage servicer, taxing body or relevant entity.

Applications for the program closes 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31. To apply, click here. For a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

“Any homeowner struggling to make their monthly payments due to lingering fallout from the pandemic should not hesitate and reach out today to see if you are eligible for this free assistance,” said Kristin Faust, executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

A webinar with more information on the program takes place 4 p.m. Thursday. To attend, click here and sign in using the password PnFGCtDw337.

Counseling agencies and other community organizations offer free application help in nearly 40 languages. Applicants can visit the program’s website or call 866-454-3571 for a list of agencies offering assistance.

South Side agencies that can help with applications include:

  • Chicago Urban League, 4510 S. King Drive in Bronzeville.
  • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, 4477 S. Archer Ave.
  • First Home Alliance, 12807 S. Halsted St. in West Pullman.
  • Far South Community Development Corporation, 853 W. 115th St. in West Pullman.
Homes in the 4700 block of South Prairie Avenue in Bronzeville on March 21, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The housing assistance is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress passed two years ago. The program opened Nov. 1, 2022.

“There is no guarantee” of future Congressional funding for the program once it’s phased out next month, Faust said.

Future program funding ultimately depends on the federal government, but “at this time, another stimulus package does not seem to be on the horizon,” housing authority spokesperson Andrew Field said.

About 14,100 homeowners have received money through the fund, receiving nearly $18,000 per household on average, officials said.

About 70 percent of program funds have supported Illinois residents In “socially disadvantaged” areas. That includes ZIP codes where residents face high levels of unemployment and poverty, have insufficient access to health care and work in industries “disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” Field said.

Financial assistance is also available to renters who have pending cases in eviction court. Qualified applicants may receive up to $25,000 for up to 15 months of past-due rent and three months of future rent payments to stave off eviction.

For more information on the renters’ assistance, click here.

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