Housing organizations

As eviction ban ends, housing agencies say assistance programs will be essential | Latino voices | Chicago News

The coronavirus-related deportation ban in Illinois is coming to an end.

Governor JB Pritzker said the state would allow enforcement of eviction orders after August 31, more than 17 months after the moratorium was published. It comes as city and state direct tenants and landlords to aid grants – which tens of thousands have requested.

Officials say 26,850 Chicagoans have applied for $ 137 million in grants. But the city only has $ 80 million and expects an additional $ 100 million this fall.

Read: Chicago rent assistance demand exceeds funds as eviction ban looms

In the meantime, an investigation of the Alliance of neighborhood building owners found that Chicago housing providers had not been paid at least $ 1 billion since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 and its economic fallout have had a significant impact on housing, including in Latin American communities, said Joseph Lopez, executive director of the Spanish Housing Coalition.

“The impact is profound in terms of destabilizing many households throughout the pandemic,” Lopez said. “The moratorium on evictions has helped bring this under control. As it is now lifted, the other part of the equation is to ensure that households access the rent assistance that comes online and the round of extra funds. “

The city and state have created a variety of grant programs to help renters and landlords.

“Relief programs from multiple levels of government, federal, state and municipal, have been essential in stabilizing, given that the pandemic situation – the resulting economic fallout – has been unprecedented in our lifetime,” said Lopez. “The government grants made available really help alleviate the looming larger crisis. “

Luz Maria Ramirez Gonzalez, Admission Specialist at Housing center on the northwest side at Belmont Cragin, helped tenants complete rental assistance subsidy applications.

“It’s a process,” Ramirez Gonzalez said. “We can’t tell them, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re approved today and you get the money tomorrow.’ It is a process. It takes a little while, but we try to make them feel good and confident that they will get something little by little. Nothing is certain, but we must give a little hope.

Ramirez Gonzalez says some of his clients are struggling to pay their rent, along with other bills.

“They buy groceries to feed their families, or they pay rent, or they pay an electric or gas bill or insurance or they have an emergency. It’s difficult, ”she said. “They are really nervous and are afraid that [their landlords] can evict them from their apartment.

Elvira Maya says immigrant status and language barriers have been challenges for some clients she works with. Maya is a housing advisor at Chicago Neighborhood Housing Services.

“Many of them, because they may be undocumented, are afraid to get help. They’re afraid to ask because they’re not sure what the branching might be if they said, “Hey, I don’t have any documents and I’m looking for help, are you going to report me? “,” Maya said. .

Some clients did not apply to programs because they felt they weren’t eligible, she said.

Maya worked with homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure through abstention.

“Some of my clients own one or two unit properties and it is not only them who are having financial difficulties, but their tenants are also having financial difficulties,” said Maya. “So now they not only have this loss of income because of their job loss, but also because they don’t even have this rental income.”

Many of her clients have conventional mortgages that are not federally covered, making it more difficult for them to get forbearance, she said.

“My concern is that once the forced eviction process begins, they will be evicted, due to the fact that they are still not back to work,” Maya said. “I have seen a lot of clients whose difficulties have not been cured. They still face difficulties. Others had to turn to different professions.