The Emergency Rent Assistance Program provides funds to help families who are unable to pay rent and/or utilities due to the pandemic. But realtors complain that the program is mired in red tape.
13-March -22 The Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program run by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the city’s Department of Housing has been so successful that new applications are no longer being accepted.
However, if you are a renter and/or owner who has already applied and submitted all the necessary documents, you still have a chance to get Relief from rent money in the coming weeks.
“The city of Chicago still has the money,” said Sabrina, one of 100 rental relief managers who answer questions about the program at 833-543-0931. “There is no time frame for receiving relief money from rent. Our caseworkers review the documents and try to process the applications as quickly as possible. Each caseworker has 150 to 200 applications for audit.”
US Bailout Act – The $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law by the President Joe Biden March 11, 2021 – $21.6 billion set aside to help apartment renters negatively affected by COVID-19. Funds are provided directly to states, local governments, territories, and Native American tribes for administration to eligible families through rental assistance programs. An eligible family 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 is paid directly to the owners and service providers. If the landlord does not want to participate, the money may be paid to the tenant.
As of late 2021, the City of Chicago has helped more than 8,600 families pay rent and utilities through ERAP funds. The average rental assistance payment is $8,900, and the average rental assistance payment is $800 per applicant.
However, landlords have complained to the home front that the rental relief program is mired in bureaucratic red tape.
A woman who owns a three-apartment West Ridge apartment on Far North Side has complained that the tenant, a mother of three, applied for rental relief in December 2021 and has yet to receive a dime.
“Her past due rent total is about $8,000, which was very helpful when I paid my property taxes on March 1st,” she said. “We have pursued her claim to no avail. He is simply indicating that he is ‘pending.’”
The landlord called forty local council members and they responded Andre Vasquez office and was referred to a helpful and knowledgeable woman who immediately found the tenant’s rental case number.
“The rental relief official said the app information is valid,” the homeowner said. “Unfortunately, they had a backlog of work since April 2021, processing over 30,000 applicants. She had no idea when they would approve, but eventually said I would receive an email advising me to respond within 48 hours to follow up on the claim. They definitely don’t. They make it fit.”
She advises property owners, particularly owners of small estates “Ma and Pa”, that “it is the responsibility of the landlord and the necessity of having deep pockets to pay for their expenses until such government assistance arrives. If it ever occurs”.
Home front spies at City Hall and County Building have reported that since December these buildings appear nearly empty. City employees may be working remotely from home during the pandemic.
“Every department, with the exception of the Cook County Treasurer’s Office and the City Street and Sewer Department, easily lags eight months behind in its work,” said one veteran editor of a newspaper. “Productivity has fallen off the table. It must be good to have job security.”