The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is launching a $150 million program with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) is expected to reach approximately 30,000 renters who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Eligible tenants must already carry an unpaid rent balance from March through present day and certify that the reason they were unable to pay rent was due to a COVID-19 related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to a property owner or landlord on behalf of the tenant and as a condition of accepting the assistance, landlords must agree not to evict the tenant for the duration of the ERA.
IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000 to provide support with mortgage payments. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) is expected to assist approximately 10,000 eligible homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage. Homeowners' income prior to the pandemic cannot exceed 120% of the area median income (AMI). Therefore, only homeowners with mortgage arrearages, or in forbearance, on or after March 2020 through present day may be eligible to apply. Eligible homeowners must be able to certify that the reason they could not pay their mortgage in full was due to a COVID-19-related loss of income on or after March 1, 2020. The assistance will be paid directly to the mortgagor's loan servicer on behalf of the homeowner.
Both programs will launch in August 2020 and run through the end of the year. Both programs will be available on a first-come, first-approved basis until the funds are exhausted. Governor Pritzker will extend the ongoing residential eviction ban through July 31 to provide a smooth transition into the assistance programs.
As of Friday, May 1 Governor Pritzker is requiring all individuals over 2 years old are required to wear a face covering or mask when in a public place where they can't maintain a six-foot distance.
N95 masks and surgical grade masks should be reserved for healthcare workers. For everyday use, you can make a face covering using an online pattern or with a scarf. The face covering should cover your nose and mouth and should be relatively snug to the face. Be sure to wash your covering between use and do not take it on and off while using it. Face coverings are to enhance, not replace, other social distancing practices. Please be sure to maintain a 6ft distance between yourself and others, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands often. The CDC has developed an FAQ here.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General have issued guidance on avoiding COVID-19 related scams and fraud. You can learn more about their guidance here.
In Illinois, the Attorney General cautions residents to not purchase any products claiming to cure, treat, or offer home tests for COVID-19. The office also suggests avoiding calls claiming to be Social Secuity or FEMA, avoid online offers for Starbucks gift cards, and avoid air duct cleaning services as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You can contact the Illinois Attorney General's fraud hotline at 1-800-386-5438.
Expanded unemployment insurance: the CARES Act expands unemployment benefits in two ways. First, for those who are eligible for Illinois Unemployment Insurance, you will now receive additional money in your benefit (an additional $600 per week) and your eligibility period has been extended by 13 weeks. Previously, Illinois unemployment insurance had waived the waiting period, redefined "actively searching for work," and expanded to cover those who are unable to work because they must care for someone else. Details on the Illinois Unemployment Insurance program are here.
Second, Pandemic Unemployment Compensation has been added for those who don't traditionally qualify for unemployment insurance (including self-employed, freelance, and gig workers). Details on Pandemic Unemployment Compensation are here.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security is experiencing high call volume, they are processing applications for those whose last names begin with A-M on Sunday (online only), Tuesday (online & phone), and Thursday (online & phone). They are processing applications for those whose last names begin with L-Z on Monday (online & phone), Wednesday (online & phone), and Friday (online only). Details on this can be found here.
Vehicle Stickers & Driver's Licenses
Driver Services facilities are currently closed.
Renew your vehicle sticker: You can renew your vehicle sticker online. You can learn more about how to renew and what information you need here. Also, fees for paying with an e-check are waived until August 2020.
Expired driver's license or ID card:
If your driver's license or ID card expired after March 16, 2020, your ID card is automatically extended and will remain valid for 90 days after the Driver Services facilities reopen. You can obtain a duplicate driver's license, driving record, or renew through the Safe Driver Renewal program online. You can get more information on this extension and what services are available here.
REAL ID Extension:
Nationally, the deadline for REAL ID, the new standard from the Transportation Security Administration for security at airports, has been extended until October 1, 2021. More information on the program and its extension is here.
Gov. Pritzker issued EO 2020-36 easing access to marriage licenses and ceremonies via video conferencing. You can now receive your license and solemnize your license by a two-way audio and video link. The 24 hour waiting period, the 10 day return deadline, and the 60 day expiration period for marriage licenses have all been suspended. The Cook County Clerk is working to expand their services to meet demand. You can learn about the licensing changes here.
Earned Sick Leave
Unless the municipality you work in has opted out, those who work in Cook County are entitled to Earned Sick Leave, details on the Earned Sick Leave Ordinance are here.
Regardless, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employers with fewer than 500 workers must also provide lead. Guidance from the Department of Labor is here.
Health Insurance Coverage
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, public and private insurance will cover the cost of COVID-19 testing without passing on any cost-sharing burdens to individuals.
Loosing your or your spouses employer based health insurance is a qualifying event for the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care). Please visit Healthcare.gov to see plans available in the Illinois Marketplace.
2019 Federal & State Taxes
Federal and state income tax filing deadlines have been extended until July 15th.
Give or Get Support
Give Support: A list of volunteer and donation opportunities is here.
If your home is unsafe, please call the domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338 (Voice) or 1-877-863-6339 (TTY). The hotline is toll free, confidential, multilingual, and open 24-hour.
There are also services specific to provide food and emergency housing in the North and Northwest suburbs.
Northfield Township Food Pantry
Palatine Township Food Pantry
Wheeling Township Food Pantry
WINGS: Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence--847-221-5680 (24 hr hotline)