by Cate Cauguiran
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cook County officials are scrambling to help people behind on their rent, as they warned the expired moratorium could cause a "tsunami of evictions" in September.
Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other country leaders are hoping to avoid a potential homelessness wave by connecting renters and landlords to free services before they go to court.
"Housing insecurity and homelessness have been shown to lead to food insecurity, domestic violence, mental illness, preventable health conditions and substance abuse," Preckwinkle said.
Both federal and state eviction moratoriums ended over the weekend. In Illinois that means a landlord can now file eviction papers, and evictions can move forward starting Sept. 1.
"We're here today to urge our landlord partners to consider all the alternatives at your disposal before filing those eviction papers," Preckwinkle said.
She was joined by other officials Monday morning to highlight an initiative offering free legal help to both landlords and tenants.
"Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt is a county wide initiative that helps residents resolve eviction, foreclosure, debt, and tax deed issues," she said.
Called CCLAHD for short, the initiative is designed to help both parties find financial relief without having to set foot in court.
"CCLAHD cuts the red tape and get straight to the point, negotiating a fair deal for all parties so the tenants can remain housed and landlords can maintain a tenant in good standing," said Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton.
County officials said they have provide more than $60 million in rental assistance directly to landlords and renters.
"A landlord is going to be better off trying to resolve this before court happens," said Bob Glaves, executive director of the Chicago Bar Foundation. "When it goes all the way to eviction, nobody wins, not the landlord not the tenant not the community."
The Cook County Sheriff's Office also said it will offer support through its community resource center.
Monday, Rev. Jesse Jackson announced he will join Representative Cori Bush and other African American congresswomen in sleeping outside the U.S. Capitol urging for federal leaders to take action.