From McHenry County:
County Creates $9M Program for Rental and Utility Assistance for COVID-19 Hardship
WOODSTOCK, Ill. – McHenry County is creating a program to disburse more than $9 million in federal aid to qualified renters unable to pay their rent or utilities because of pandemic-related financial hardship.
The County Board on Tuesday evening voted unanimously to create the McHenry County Emergency Utility and Rental Assistance Program, which will distribute $9.12 million allocated to the county through the COVID-19 stimulus bill signed into law Dec. 27.
The program aims to reduce or eliminate pandemic-related evictions, prevent homelessness, avoid damaged credit that could hurt future housing opportunities for renters, and repair landlord/tenant relationships strained because of lack of payment.
Landlords can apply for assistance as well.
“While restrictions on our businesses and lifestyles continue to loosen, and while more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 with each passing day, we can’t for one moment allow ourselves to forget the economic havoc that the pandemic has wreaked on households,” County Board Chairman Michael Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, said.
“People throughout the county have fallen behind on their rent or utility bills as a result, and this program offers them a direct lifeline.”
Under the program, renters suffering financial hardship can qualify for assistance up to six months in arrears, and up to three months in advance
Awarded funds are paid directly to the landlord or the utility company.
Qualifying households must be at or below 80 percent of their area median income – households at 50 percent or lower or that include dependents or seniors 62 years and older will get priority.
They also must be able to demonstrate a loss of income or employment as a result of COVID-19.
Immigration status is not a factor in determining eligibility.
The McHenry County Housing Authority will act as the chief review agency for submitted applications, and Home of the Sparrow will serve as a navigator to assist families with children in accessing the program
The Community Development Division of the McHenry County Department of Planning and Development will serve as the lead agency.
It is anticipated that the program will be up and running by early to mid-March.
Congress allocated $25 billion in rental and utility assistance for counties and municipalities with 200,000 or more residents.
McHenry County’s funding, based on a pre-set formula, comes from
the $834.7 million allocated for Illinois.
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Note the cutoff point for direct financial assistance has been lowered from 500,000 to 200,000 people.
In the last round, McHenry County’s share was pretty much dependent on state government whim.