The Illinois General Assembly dedicated $396 million of its $3.5 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars in its fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget to COVID-19-related rent and mortgage assistance. This win for housing advocates came during a brief session that concluded on May 24 and is a significant increase from the $210 million included in the initial budget introduced on May 19.
Housing Action Illinois, an NLIHC state partner, and its network have been working to secure emergency rent and mortgage assistance in Illinois since the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. A large part of this work was making advocates and legislators aware that the CRF, funded as part of CARES Act, can be used to provide emergency housing and homelessness assistance. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the state’s housing finance agency, was also aware of the CRF early on and made a request to the governor’s office to administer such a program.
Once the General Assembly was in session, housing advocates worked swiftly to call for significantly more funding that what was originally proposed. “We worked closely with our champions in the General Assembly, especially Representative Delia Ramirez, Senator Robert Peters, and other members of the Progressive Caucus to secure the $396 million in funding,” said Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois.
Advocates are in the process of submitting suggestions regarding design and implementation of the program to IHDA and hope the program will be up and running no later than the end of June. In addition to rent and mortgage assistance, a small portion of the funds will be used to complete previously approved affordable rental housing development projects in need of gap financing related to COVID-19 economic conditions. In accordance with CRF requirements, costs for the program must be incurred by December 30, 2020.
For more information about Housing Action Illinois, visit: https://housingactionil.org/
For more information about the new rent and mortgage assistance fund as it becomes available, visit: https://www.ihda.org/