IL opening 3rd round of rental assistance in December; Chicago woman waited months for approval

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois officials say a third round of federal COVID-19 rental assistance funding will be available in December to tenants and landlords who need help during the pandemic.

While thousands have benefitted from these programs so far, one Chicago woman turned to the I-Team when she wasn't getting assistance and was worried about staying in her home.

"I felt beyond panic," Latanya Jackson said.

Jackson has been struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic started. Her daughter, who helps pay the rent for their Woodlawn apartment, has been out of work.

"It's just like I have anxiety so I know how that could feel, but I just felt like beyond lost, I reached out to you," she said.

Jackson said she's faced months of hurdles seeking more than $15,000 in federal rental assistance. She said when she wasn't getting answers from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which distributes the federal pandemic funds, she contacted the I-Team.

"I have anxiety, I have my 80-year-old mom here, I have my grandchildren, and I'm just feeling the weight of the world I'm feeling like I'm not getting any kind of compassion for the pandemic for anything," said Jackson.

IHDA said the delays and confusion in this case stemmed from multiple application problems.

Her first one was denied after it was mistakenly listed as Section 8 housing and the second one was missing a landlord's signature. The agency said there was trouble verifying landlord ownership in a third application, filed in August.

Jackson said she couldn't get answers about what else needed to be done.

"They literally told me the system denied you," she recalled.

After the I-Team reached out about the most recent application, IHDA re-examined the situation and approved the funding, sending her landlord more than $15,000.

State officials told the I-Team in a statement, "We understand there was confusion on the part of the renter; however, the process worked and they were eventually approved for assistance to keep them in their home while they regain their financial footing."

"Nothing happened until you got involved, nothing, only these generic answers of oh someone will contact you, we're looking into it," said Jackson.

If you're dealing with a hold up on rental assistance funding the state says it could be due to a small application error which may be avoided with increased communication between landlords and tenants.

IHDA said it will also be adding new software in this next round of rental funding which launches next month, to help streamline the process.

IHDA will open a new round of assistance funded by a separate federal bill on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
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