Up to 3,000 suburban homeowners could get help paying their mortgage under a new program paid for by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Cook County officials announced Thursday.
The county will use $20 million of the $429 million it got from the CARES Act to create the mortgage assistance program, which officials say will help residents make one to three months of overdue or future mortgage payments of up to $10,000.
“We know that recovery will not happen overnight,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said at a news conference Thursday. “Unfortunately, the pandemic remains far from over. And we know that COVID-19 is taking a tremendous toll on individuals and families.”
Officials said a quarter of the fund will be allocated to areas hit hardest by the pandemic, which across the country has overwhelmingly been in Black and brown communities.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities Black and brown communities face in terms of disinvestment, access to health care, food insecurity, lack of economic opportunity, language barriers and other forms of inequity,” Preckwinkle said.
In Chicago, one in four report serious problems paying their mortgage or rent, according to a recent survey from National Public Radio.
In July, Chicago officials announced a similar housing assistance program that pays up to $3,300 directly to mortgage lenders. Assistance for suburban homeowners through the county’s program is expected to be double that, as officials estimate an average of $7,800 in aid per person.
But landlords and homeowners have complained that with a slew of other expenses, mortgage relief in and of itself is not enough.
The county also provided an update to its previously launched $20 million rental assistance program, saying it’s so far assisted 3,000 suburban renters.
The application window for the new mortgage assistance program opens Oct. 9 and ends Oct. 16.
Mariah Woelfel is a general assignment reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on Twitter @MariahWoelfel.