CDC eviction moratorium relieves renters, but Chicago landlords still worried

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Millions struggling to pay their rent or mortgages due to COVID-19 got some relief after the CDC issued a moratorium on evictions, but some Chicago landlords are still worried.

Federal, state and local governments have approved eviction moratoriums during the course of the pandemic for many renters, but those protections are expiring rapidly. A recent report from one think tank, the Aspen Institute, stated that more than 20 million renters live in households that have suffered COVID-19-related job loss and concluded that millions more are at risk of eviction in the next several months.

CDC directs halt to renter evictions through the end of the year to prevent COVID-19 spread

Senior administration officials explained that the director of the CDC has broad authority to take actions deemed reasonably necessary to prevent the spread of a communicable disease.

Renters covered through the executive order must meet four criteria. They must:
Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $99,000 for single filers.
Demonstrate they have sought government assistance to make their rental payments.
Affirmatively declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 hardships.

Affirm they are likely to become homeless if they are evicted.

"It's really good news, housing organizers around Chicago and across the country have been fighting for this for months," said Michael Robin, Autonomous Tenants Union.

Governor Pritzker recently extended a moratorium on evictions in Illinois. Those advocating for renters in the Chicago area want to see rents canceled so tenants struggling during the pandemic won't owe months of back rent when the moratoriums are lifted.

"We believe landlords should be the ones who apply for assistance and tenants should be the ones given relief," Robin said. "We want rent to be canceled and if landlords can't make their payment on time, they should be fighting for mortgage cancellation as well, which we have also demanded."

"It's become the burden of the landlords to help solve this crisis and we need help, we need government aid," said Katrina Bilella. "Where's our government aid?"

Bilella owns a property in Logan Square. She said she rented it to take a job out of town, but was laid off during the pandemic. She said her renters have been unable to pay since March and have remained in her property, so she is now homeless, jobless and still owing taxes and fees on her home.

"I would like to see the moratorium amended to incentivize landlords and tenants to work together," she said. "We're all hurting."

The Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance estimates 70 percent of building owners in Chicago own fewer than 20 units.

While doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the alliance said many owners in our area will be in a tough spot if they don't get help too.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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