Unless extended again, the state of Illinois' current eviction moratorium ends Saturday, April 3.
During the moratorium, rent owed was placed on a freeze, but when the moratorium ends, all that back rent still needs to paid.
"About 42% of Illinois residents are behind in their rent due to COVID," said Karla Chrobak of CARPLS, a Chicago-based legal aid organization. "We're talking millions of dollars of back rent, millions."
But there is real financial help available to suburban Cook County renters right now.
Applications are now open for the Cook County Emergency Rental Assistance program. It pays up to $15,000 to help cover 12 months of missed rent and utilities payments and up to 3 months of future rent payments. Payments will be made directly to the landlord and utility company.
“It's very easy to use for suburban Cook County residents, at risk of homelessness, who have experienced any kind of COVID hardship," Chrobak said.
Sometime in April or May, the state of Illinois expects to open up its Emergency Rental Assistance program where renters can apply up to $25,000. Same for Chicago residents, who will have their own program with no financial cap.
But the relief programs are run like a lottery system and an application is not a guarantee, so Chrobak suggests applying to both programs.
“Rent is due while the moratorium is in effect, but if one receives this nice pot of money, that money does not have to be paid back," Chrobak explained.