Advocacy Group Seeking ‘Rent Holiday' to Help Tenants Impacted by Coronavirus

The state of Illinois has already ordered a halt to all evictions as a result of the pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the closure of thousands of businesses across the country, and as a result many workers are finding themselves asking how they’ll cover their bills while unemployed because of the virus.

 “It’s a nightmare,” Chicago resident Maria Morales said. “We are just thinking day and night how we are going to pay our bills, our rent and how we’re going to feed our kids.”

Morales was employed as a member of a cleaning crew at McCormick Place before the pandemic started, but now the mother of three is unemployed because of the virus, and she’s struggling to figure out how to make ends meet without a paycheck.

While state and federal officials have enacted a series of executive orders to help people laid off during the pandemic, a tenant’s rights group called “Lift the Ban Coalition” is asking for even more. The group is aiming to help Morales and others by encouraging the state to order a rent holiday, and to extend it even after the “stay-at-home” order is lifted.

“People are not able to work, and so that means the income just isn’t coming in,” group leader Jawanaza Malone said.

The state of Illinois has halted evictions and foreclosures amid the pandemic, and has also worked with utility companies to suspend service shut-offs for those individuals who are late on their payments.

State officials are also working with banks and credit card companies, asking them to waive overdraft charges and late payment fees, among other penalties that some borrowers could face as a result of unemployment during the pandemic.

At the federal level, President Donald Trump announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended all foreclosures and evictions through at least the end of April because of the pandemic. Many major banks and lenders have instituted programs to allow delays and deferrals on payments.

If individuals are rebuffed in their efforts to seek help from lenders and banks, experts advise borrowers to contact their state attorney general’s office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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