Wait for federal CARES Act rent, mortgage assistance too long, IL residents say

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wait for federal rent, mortgage assistance too long, residents say
Illinois residents who have applied for federal money to help pay their rent or mortgage say they've been dealing with long delays.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois residents who have applied for federal money to help pay their rent or mortgage say they've been dealing with long delays.

The Illinois Housing Department Authority is in charge of handing out funding from the federal CARES Act to pay their landlords or their mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to apply was in August, but now the IHDA's Facebook page is full of complaints from people who say they're still waiting for an answer as a federal eviction moratorium may be ending.

"It's critical for us and critical for our family, we don't know what we're going to do if the funding doesn't appear in the next seven days," said April Crotts.

Crotts needs rental assistance. Jeremy Cohn is hoping for help with his mortgage.

"It's been hours and hours of follow up, and the information continues to change. It's located in different places, even in the process of escalating to supervisors and their supervisors, we're still not getting responsiveness," Crotts said.

"I applied in August and the only thing I heard after four months was a denial letter a week ago," said Cohn.

Cohn said he could have been applying to other assistance programs if he had been informed sooner.

"The money that is still there should be spent, and it should be spent on people who need it," he said.

The I-Team also sent the agency documents from two other applicants who are still waiting for responses. A spokesperson told them "we will provide housing assistance to every resident whose application was approved," and added that "to date" it has paid more than 38,000 landlords $190 million in back rent owed to them from tenants who applied for help.

The IHDA also said nearly 9,500 homeowners have gotten nearly $84 million to "stave off foreclosure."

"We're on the brink of a housing crisis. Not just for renters but for landlords maybe landlords that only own one or two properties, people who have mortgages, this is indicative of a much stronger issue that needs to be addressed very quickly," said Crotts.

She said after posting on social media about the I-Team's involvement she found out she was approved. Her landlord was sent a check for $5,000.

As for Cohn, an IHDA spokesperson texted to say that after review the application now "looks good" and is up for "final review and payment."

The agency said it has until the end of the year to approve applicants, but money can continue to be sent to people through next year.