President Preckwinkle Announces $72.8 Million Rental and Utility Assistance Program for Residents and Landlords

March 11, 2021

COOK COUNTY – Today Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Commissioner Alma Anaya (7th District), the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) announced the launch of a $72.8 million rental and utility assistance program to help suburban Cook County residents experiencing financial and housing insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to be working with the Housing Authority of Cook County and the more than 40 housing partners and community-based organizations to support this effort. Many of our residents are already struggling and we want to make sure those who have been disproportionally impacted are aware of the support systems and resources available to assist them during this time,” said President Preckwinkle. “We believe housing is a human right, and we’re doing everything we can in this moment to make sure our most vulnerable residents remain in their homes during this difficult time.”

Funded by the Bipartisan-Bicameral Omnibus COVID Relief legislation passed in late 2020, the program pays up to 12 months of missed rent and utility payments and up to 3 months of future rent payments. The program is designed for suburban Cook County renters and landlords. Payments will be made directly to landlords on behalf of tenants and amounts will vary on need, family size, and eligibility.

“The rental assistance program being launched today comes at a time when, even a year into the pandemic, millions of people across the country remain unemployed and are living in housing insecurity,” said Commissioner Anaya. “This program is vital to the supporting the stability of our communities in Suburban Cook County as we work towards recovery from the challenges brought on by the pandemic.”

The funding will be available to renter households with incomes under 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) who have unpaid rent balances charged during the pandemic; qualify for unemployment; have experienced a reduction in household income; or demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability. Preference will be given to households at or below 50% AMI; and/or households with an individual unemployed for the 90 days prior to application. Recipients cannot be a participant in federally-subsidized Public Housing, project-based Rental Assistance, or Housing Choice voucher programs. 

"I'm pleased and grateful that our County is receiving this second round of funding, and proud to be leading the team to administer it,” said Richard Monocchio, Executive Director of HACC. “This funding is life-changing for the families who need it, as our staff who processed the first round of emergency assistance know very well. I believe that there is nothing more important to a family's well-being than staying safely housed, and we will be working to get this money out the door and into the hands of Cook County residents as quickly as possible."

The funds will be administered by the Housing Authority of Cook County, the principal provider of publicly subsidized housing in suburban Cook County. HACC currently provides partial rent payments to private landlords on behalf of nearly 15,000 Cook County residents as part of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. HACC’s experienced staff and existing system for processing rental payments will ensure the smooth, swift distribution of funds. 

“We are proud to continue our mission to create programs that provide stable solutions for residents and do whatever it takes to help people stay in their homes and keep their families safe.” said Xochitl Flores, Bureau Chief of Economic Development. “Today’s plan protects families and individuals impacted by COVID while empowering them to keep making rent payments. It will also help supplement the great work already being done by our community partners and housing agencies who are working to help keep people in their homes.”

Residents can review their eligibility and apply for rental assistance at www.cookcountyil.gov/recovery. The application period opens today, March 11 and will close on April 2. Applications are available through the online portal in many languages including Spanish, Polish, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and Hindi.

The Rental Assistance program is a part of Cook County’s COVID-19 Community Recovery Initiative, which has provided $72 million in CARES funding to support housing, shelter, food, small business, and cash assistance supports to date.

To receive updates on COVID-19 via text message, text ALERTCOOK to 888-777.