State Budget Includes $396 Million in Rent & Mortgage Assistance

Last Wednesday, Illinois legislators headed to Springfield for a brief, whirlwind General Assembly session that drew to an end early in the morning on May 24. They spent the handful of days together hammering out a budget and working on few legislative items.

For the core issues we work on, one piece of especially good news is that the final FY21 state budget includes $396 million in COVID-19-related rent and mortgage assistance.

This is a significant increase from the $210 million in the initial budget that was introduced in the General Assembly on May 19.

The funding comes from the State of Illinois’ portion of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and will benefit those impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Subordinate “gap” financing to complete affordable housing development projects is also an allowable use of the funds.

The funds, which can be used for costs incurred between March 1 and December 30 of 2020, were appropriated to the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

The $396 million is allocated as follows:

  • $217 million for throughout Illinois
  • $100 million specifically to meet the needs of people in disproportionately impacted areas, based on COVID-19 cases
  • $79 million for providers in counties that did not receive direct allotments from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will Counties have already received direct allotments)

Although the $396 million won’t come close to meeting the housing needs of everyone impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a crucially important investment. It will compliment other funds that have already been secured, such as funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant Program allocated through the federal CARES Act.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that Illinois needs $4.86 billion in rental assistance to stabilize low-income households facing a loss of employment or income between April 2020 and June 2021.

We continue to advocate for additional resources from the federal government, such as those included in the HEROES Act, which passed in the House earlier this month but still awaits action by the Senate. Among other provisions, the HEROES Act would address housing- and homelessness-related needs through $100 billion in nationally available emergency rental assistance.

Housing Action Illinois would like to recognize the efforts of Representative Delia Ramirez during this year’s abbreviated General Assembly session. Representative Ramirez championed housing issues tirelessly last week, both through the state budget and legislative efforts. She worked with Housing Action and many of our allies, as well as her colleagues in the General Assembly (especially Senator Robert Peters and other members of the Progressive Caucus), to urge the General Assembly to meet the needs of Illinoisans facing housing instability.

Our thanks to Representative Ramirez, the legislators in the General Assembly, and our allies and supporters for your advocacy efforts during this whirlwind session!