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Coronavirus

Chicago will give homeowners and renters $33 million more in assistance funds

Previous assistance has been criticized by residents

Chicago homeowners and renters are being given another chance to apply for housing assistance grants. On Monday, $33 million in grants was announced by the city’s Department of Housing and the Department of Family and Support, in a round of funding from the CARES Act.

In addition, there is a new site to help Chicago homeowners and renters apply, the Chicago Tribune said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot originally announced one-time $1,000 grants to help residents suffering financially from COVID-19 in March, and in April created a Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge, encouraging landlords and renters to work together through the coronavirus pandemic. Both were criticized by residents for not offering enough assistance.

“COVID-19 has laid bare and exacerbated the issue of housing insecurity, a core symptom of the crushing poverty and economic hardship that remains the reality for far too many Chicagoans,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“This much-needed expansion of our Housing Assistance Grants and the creation of the online Chicago Housing Assistance Portal will ensure that our residents have the support they need to stay in their homes, stay safe and stay afloat during these uncertain times,” Lightfoot said.

The Department of Housing and the city will provide grants between $2,000 and $3,000 to those earning up to 60% of the area’s median income and if they have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Applications opened on Monday and will close on August 10.

Mortgage assistance will also be provided via the housing department. Up to $3,300 will be given directly to those with income at or below 120% of the area’s median income. This application opens on Friday.

The city will also work with the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing to provide no-cost legal defense in eviction court for people making 60% of the area median income or below. This will be in effect through December 2020.

“The first round of COVID-19 Housing Assistance showed us how deep the need is across all neighborhoods in Chicago,” said Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara in a statement. “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.”  

Last Wednesday, Chicago City Council agreed to give renters up to 120 days notice before landlords terminate leases or raise rent, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Federal eviction moratoriums expired on Saturday, but Cook county’s moratorium ends August 22.

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