Eviction Crisis: What Renters Can Do To Protect Themselves

Along with the COVID-19 Pandemic came other crises such as cleaning supply shortages, and an eviction crisis. Since so many businesses shut down across the country, many people lost their jobs and income. Well, despite high unemployment, renters and property owners still had bills to pay. For many, the single stimulus check was not nearly enough to cover expenses, nor has unemployment benefits helped everyone. Now, as certain benefits are set to expire as well as certain eviction protections, renters and property owners need relief. This post will go over what renters can do to protect themselves from the coming eviction crisis whether you are a Chicago renter or an Illinois one. 

National Eviction Crisis

While many of those who lost their jobs received unemployment benefits, some of those benefits will expire this week. Simultaneously, the federal moratorium on evictions expires this week, along with individual states ending theirs as well. As reports by CNBC explain, a massive eviction crisis is about to happen in the US. According to the report, up to 40 million Americans nationwide could face eviction by August. For reference, landlords evicted 2.3 million Americans in 2016. Some estimates believe that number will be reached in August of this year alone. 

Illinois Renters

In Illinois alone, 42% of renters will be vulnerable to eviction, leaving many people to fear what might happen to their homes. Fortunately, Governor Pritzker has extended the ban on evictions to August 22, 2020. Unfortunately, if you are unable to pay rent/bills right now, you will likely still be unable to pay when the expiration date arrives. In order to stave off an eviction crisis during a pandemic, City and State governments plan on offering relief. Illinois has set aside 150 million dollars in relief for renters and another 150 million aimed at homeowners. Along with the state relief, Chicago will set aside around 33 million dollars in relief for city renters and property owners. 

How To Apply For Rent Relief

If you are an Illinois resident facing eviction from your rental property, you can apply for relief. For Illinois renters who cannot pay rent, you can apply for a $5,000 grant starting August 10th. However, you should know that the grant is based on a lottery system, so applying does not guarantee anything. Additionally, the grant will go directly to landlords, so you can not use it on other expenses. 

For Chicago renters who were left out of the City’s first round of relief back in March, this round should see you at the top of the list. If you are wondering if you qualify for relief, check the Chicago Housing Assistance Portal for more details. The Commissioner of Housing in Chicago believes this relief should help around 10,000 city renters. You can start applying for relief on August 3rd, which should help city residents avoid the eviction crisis. Despite these efforts, some landlords have ignored eviction bans, and locked tenants out of units

Other Eviction Protections

Outside of direct funding to either renters or landlords, Chicago set aside federal fund to pay tenant legal fees. According to the city government’s website, through the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Program renters facing eviction can receive free legal help. As part of the program the group, Lawyers Committee For Better Housing, LCBH, will counsel city residents who qualify. In order to qualify for free legal services, a resident must make 60% or less of the area median income. If you are a renter you should explore all your options for fighting against the coming eviction crisis.