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rent money envelope

In this April 1, 2020, file photo, a paper envelope written with the words “Rent Money $" is left tucked in a lighting pole in Los Angeles. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week that more than $443 million in emergency rental assistance has been paid to households throughout the state. An additional $500 million in assistance will open up later this year.

Damian Dovarganes

The pandemic eviction moratorium is over in Illinois, but there is still help available

The Illinois eviction moratorium is officially over.

Another sunset in the moratorium’s phaseout has now been lifted, but there’s still hundreds of millions of dollars in the pipeline to help struggling tenants and landlords.

As of Oct. 3, protections ended for renters who declared they were impacted by COVID-19, which means the prohibition on eviction trials for this group is now expired. Landlord eviction filings were allowed to resume in August — but they weren’t enforceable. Now, they are.

“If people get court papers — I know it seems scary — but they should go to court,” said Michelle Gilbert, legal director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, who’s leading an eviction prevention project. “There will be someone who is available to talk to them right away. There are resources available that have never been available before.”

Gov. JB Pritzker said last week that more than $443 million of $500 million in emergency rental assistance has been paid to households in every county in need. Illinois is one of the highest providers of rental assistance in the country, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

There is still an additional $500 million that will open up later this year. Landlords and tenants apply together and can receive up to $25,000 covering 12 months of back rent and up to three months of future rent.

“I understand there’s been stress and strife, but actually we have lots and lots of stories of landlords helping tenants to apply and tenants encouraging their landlords to apply,” said Kristin Faust, executive director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

“The landlords don’t want to evict. It’s a big hassle,” Faust said. “You’d rather just have a paying tenant. It costs you money to evict and to turn over the unit.”

IHDA has partnered with community groups and legal aid all over the state to spread the word.

“We don’t want to miss anybody. We’re trying to create a safety net for everybody because we’re really trying to keep everybody housed,” Faust said.

Mike Glasser is president of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance, and he owns property in Chicago and DuPage County. So far, he has recovered $20,000 in back rent and is scheduled to receive another $10,000.

But he still worries.

“As more and more tenants know that there’s emergency rental assistance available, those that need that money will continue to seek it out. And there are tenants who don’t necessarily need that money,” Glasser said. “They have the means and the wherewithal to come up with the rent on their own and might choose not to. And it’s a very challenging thing now to come at us.”

The protections currently in place are for people affected financially by COVID-19. Since August 1, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office has enforced 309 court-ordered evictions against individuals the courts deemed to be non-covered by the pandemic.

Gilbert said people are still struggling as the economy hasn’t bounced back — especially for people of color — and those families are concerned about how they will pay rent going forward.

“I still talk to a lot of tenants who are either unemployed, or they’re not working as much as they had previously worked, which makes a lot of sense to me, as I walk around the Loop,” Gilbert said. “There are just so many empty stores and stores that have gone out of business.”

Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieymoore.