Illinois rental assistance program covers up to 18 months for qualified applicants

Illinois residents struggling to pay rent or facing eviction can find out if the state has funds or services to help.

Teri Ross, executive director of Illinois Legal Aid Online, said programs and amounts available vary depending on the city or county. She explained the state's program through the Illinois Housing Development Authority reopened this month and will stay open until January 9, and more people are eligible than may think.

"If you're worried that you might be above the income level, I'd make sure you check it first," Ross advised. "It's $75,000 annual income a year for a family of four. That's well above the poverty level to qualify."

Ross added there are two major differences with the current round of state rental assistance. It will cover up to 18 months of rent, whereas past rounds covered 15 months, and the documentation requirements are more flexible. If there are certain documents you cannot access, she said you can sign a statement to attest what you're saying about your eligibility is true.

In addition to state rental assistance, Ross noted the Court-Based Rental Assistance Program may help people who already have an active eviction case in court. She said some counties also have mediation services available to help landlords and tenants negotiate a path forward.

"The other service that you can get is something called Eviction Help Illinois," Ross noted. "That provides actual legal assistance, advice and representation from lawyers available to people, and landlords as well, who find themselves in these precarious situations."

According to recent Census Bureau surveys, more than 80,000 Illinois residents are at risk of eviction or foreclosure on their homes, and more than 220,000 have been unable to pay their energy bills.