Rent and mortgage relief: How to find out if you’re eligible for new programs in your area

August 11, 2020, 9:30 PM UTC

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hamper the U.S. economy, more local governments across the country are rolling out relief programs designed to help struggling Americans pay their rent and mortgage.

Los Angeles County is set to launch a new $100 million relief fund next week that will target low-income residents in need of rent assistance. Up to 9,000 households in LA County will receive aid via a lottery that will be held at the end of a two-week application period beginning Aug. 17, with residents eligible to receive up to $10,000 depending on their income level.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the launch of two new programs on Monday meant to help both lower-income renters and homeowners struggling to make ends meet. The state’s $150 million Rental Assistance Program, which opened for applications this week, will provide one-time grants of up to $5,000 for renters in need of assistance, with up to 30,000 tenants expected to receive help. Illinois will also open applications for another $150 million program later this month that will assist up to 10,000 struggling homeowners, who will be eligible to receive grants of up to $15,000.

The initiatives in both Los Angeles and Illinois are open specifically to those experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants provided by those local and state governments will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of their tenants (or to mortgage servicers on behalf of homeowners, in the case of Illinois’ mortgage assistance program), and will cover missed payments dating back to March 1.

The programs are made possible through the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package passed by Congress in March. In addition to including mortgage forbearance provisions and an eviction moratorium for those living in federally-backed rental housing, the bill also allocated billions of dollars to local and state governments for aid programs of their own.

With Congress still deadlocked over a followup measure to the CARES Act, many local, state, and federal housing moratoriums have either expired or are due to expire in the coming weeks and months. As such, it’s been left to leaders at the state and local levels to roll out measures assisting Americans who are still suffering from the pandemic’s economic consequences.

Beyond the initiatives in Los Angeles and Illinois, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has developed an interactive, searchable database of state and local rental assistance programs across the country.

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