City Of Chicago Stops Taking New Rent Relief Applications
“Rent Relief,” an emergency federal rental-assistance program administered by Chicago’s Family & Support Services and the city Department of Housing, has been so successful that new applications are no longer being accepted.
However, if you are a renter and/or landlord who already applied and provided all the necessary documentation, you still have a shot at obtaining rent relief funds in the coming weeks.
“The city of Chicago still has money,” Sabrina, one of 100 Rent Relief administrators, who answer questions about the program (Call 833-543-0931).
“There is no time frame on receiving Rent Relief funds,” Sabrina said. “Our caseworkers are reviewing documents and are trying to process applications as fast as possible. Each caseworker has 150 to 200 applications to audit.”
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides funds to assist households unable to pay rent and/or utilities due to the on-going pandemic.
The federal American Rescue Plan Act, passed in December of 2020, allocated $25 billion to emergency rental assistance (ERAP1). Then, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package approved in March of 2021 set aside $21.55 billion (ERAP2), resulting in a total of more than $46 billion available to apartment tenants nationwide who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
An eligible household may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional three months if needed, depending on the availability of funds. In general, the money will be paid directly to landlords and utility providers. If an owner doesn’t want to participate, funds may be paid to the renter.
As of late 2021, the city of Chicago has assisted more than 8,600 households with rent and utility payments through ERAP funds. The average rental assistance payment is $8,900, and the average utility assistance is $800 per applicant.
However, landlords have complained to The Home Front column that the Rent Relief program is bogged down in bureaucratic red tape and delays.
One “landlady” who owns a 3-flat in West Ridge on the Far North Side complained that her tenant, a mother of three children, applied for Rent Relief in December of 2021, and still hasn’t received a dime.
“Her past-due rent totals nearly $8,000, which would have been a big help to me when I paid my property taxes on March 1st,” said the landlady. “We have been following up on her claim to no avail. It simply indicates that it is ‘pending’.”
The landlady contacted 40th Ward Ald. Andres Vasquez’s office and was referred to a helpful, knowledgeable woman who promptly found her tenant’s Rent Relief case number.
“The Rent Relief administrator said the application information was in order. Unfortunately, they have been backlogged since April of 2021, processing more than 30,000 applicants,” the landlady said.
“She had no idea when they would catch up, but she said eventually I will receive an e-mail advising me to reply within 48-hours to continue with the claim. They certainly are not making it convenient,” the landlady complained.
“So, advise your readers, particularly ‘Ma and Pa’ owners of smaller properties, that it is the landlord's responsibility and necessity to have deep pockets in order to pay their expenses until this government aid comes through. If it ever does.”
The Home Front’s spies at City Hall and the County Building report that since December these buildings appear to be virtually empty. Perhaps city employees are working remotely from home during the pandemic.
“Every department—except the Cook County Treasurer’s office and the city’s Dept. of Streets and Sanitation—is easily eight months behind in their work,” said one veteran newspaper editor. “Productivity has fallen off the table. It must be nice to have job security.”
For answers to questions about Rent Relief, call 833-543-0931, or visit: www.RentRelief.com\allchicago.
For more housing news, visit www.dondebat.biz. Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit www.escapingcondojail.com.