Federally Funded Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
Rental Assistance Available in Illinois
April 2023 Update: March 31 was the last day to apply for emergency rent assistance through the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provider network. that have emergency rent assistance dollars available.
Visit EvictionHelpIllinois.org for free legal assistance. Cook County residents may also be eligible for legal assistance and other services through Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt.
Court-based rent assistance is still available for tenants and landlords with cases in eviction court. Background is available here.
Program details for court-based rent assistance for tenants and landlords outside Cook County are available here. Program now open »
In Cook County, tenants and landlords will be informed about the availability of court-based rent assistance during the eviction process.
For City of Chicago residents, the Department of Family and Support Services’ Rental Assistance Program (RAP) provides funding to Chicagoans who are at risk of becoming homeless. RAP helps Chicagoans who have housing right now, but who may become homeless soon because they lost income or had another eligible emergency which prevents them from paying rent. DFSS is currently not accepting applications for non-COVID-related assistance. However, the platform will remain open to accept COVID-related applications for rental assistance. Program now open »
Most all county level emergency rent assistance programs are currently closed, but a few are open. Depending on the availability of funding, some may reopen in the future. Get more info at the links below.
The Illinois Rental Payment Program administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is no longer accepting applications.
State of Illinois Programs
- Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS): IllinoisRentalAssistance.org ceased operations with the end of the most recently completed fiscal year. A limted number of agencies still have emergency rent assistance through March 31, 2023. Learn more »
- Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP): Administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), this program is no longer accepting applications. The deadline for the last round was January 9, 2022. Learn more »
- IHDA released a report on their 2021 distribution of emergency rental assistance funds through the ILRPP. Supported by more than $584 million in federal funding, ILRPP was one of the first statewide programs in the country to fully disburse 100% of available funds. This funding assisted 63,964 low-and extremely low-income Illinois renters to stay safe at home and avoid eviction during the pandemic.
- Overall, since 2020, IHDA administered three rounds of emergency rental assistance that has provided nearly $1.02 billion in rental assistance to help 137,372 vulnerable households remain housed. Find out more in the 2022 Illinois Rental Payment Program Fact Book.
- LIHEAP & CSBG: Primarily using federal resources, the State’s of Illinois’ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program, the state budget funds programs for eligible Illinoisans seeking assistance to cover the costs of utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities. Apply for assistance at HelpIllinoisFamilies.com.
In addition, the State of Illinois’ court-based emergency rent assistance program started on September 15, 2021, except for Cook County. The program is only open to tenants and landlords with a pending eviction case filed in court. The tenant initiates the application process. Cook County has their own court-based emergency rent assistance program, operated through Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt. People with eviciton cases in Cook County will receive information about how to apply. An Illinois Supreme Court order requires the court summons to have information about how to apply for court-based emergency rent assistance attached.
County and City of Chicago Programs
- Champaign County: The program closed on February 7, 2022. Learn more »
- City of Chicago:
- The City of Chicago’s Department of Housing: Closed on December 18, 2021. Learn more »
- The Department of Family and Support Services: The Rental Assistance Program (RAP) provides funding to Chicagoans who are at risk of becoming homeless. RAP helps Chicagoans who have housing right now, but who may become homeless soon because they lost income or had another eligible emergency which prevents them from paying rent. Program now open, but only for COVID-related applications »
- Funded through IDHS, All Chicago also had an online portal for people to apply for assistance. However, the program is currently closed. Learn more »
- Cook County (suburban residents only):
- Cook County Local Rental Assistance Program: Closed on October 29, 2021. Learn More »
- The Cook County court-based emergency rent assistance program is managed through Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt. There is not a public online application portal for this program. Tenants and landlords in eviction court will be referred to the program through the court system.
- DuPage County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Closed on January 9, 2022. Learn more »
- Kane County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Closed on January 9, 2022. Learn more »
- Lake County: Re-opening from March 13, 2023 to April 14, 2023. Program now open »
- Madison County: On February 16, 2023, we were informed the program is closed, as funds are no longer available. Check for updates »
- McHenry County: The program is closed. Learn more »
- Will County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Closed on January 9, 2022. Learn more »
- Winnebago County: The program is closed. Learn more »
- St. Clair County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Closed on January 9, 2022. Learn more »
Free legal help for Illinois renters facing potential eviction and landlords not represented by a lawyer is available from evictionhelpillinois.org.
For the State of Illinois, Cook County and Chicago programs, chicookilrenthelp.org provided details on eligibility requirements and documents people needed in order to apply.
Please note that people can apply to both the state and local programs, but people cannot receive assistance to pay rent for the same month from two different sources.
If you are need additional resources to help pay your rent, such as homelessness prevention funds, especially if you are risk of homelessness, please contact a homeless service provider through the coordinated entry network for your local Continuum of Care »
COVID-19 Housing Assistance from the American Rescue Plan
In March 2021, Congress voted to enact the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The COVID-19 relief package includes almost $50 billion in essential housing and homelessness assistance, including including more than $27 billion for rental assistance, $10 billion for homeowner assistance, $5 billion for homelessness assistance, $4.5 billion for utility assistance, $100 million for housing counseling and $20 million for fair housing activities.
On March 11, the relief package was signed into law by President Biden.
Of this, more than $1.5 billion in direct funding to address pandemic-related housing needs is coming to Illinois, including more than $660 million in emergency rent assitance, almost $400 million in emergency mortgage assistance and more than $200 million in assistance for people experiencing homelessness. Illinois is also receiving more than 2,100 emergency housing vouchers.
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
In December 2020, lawmakers passed a COVID-19 relief package that includes $25 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance program to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The allocation for rental assistance programs in Illinois is $834,709,843.
COVID-19 Housing Assistance: CARES Act
In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, a $2 trillion direct spending bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which provided $12 billion in housing and community development resources. Illinois communities were allocated $332.6 million for three HUD programs funded through the CARES Act:
- Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG): $118,624,446
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): $212,110,193
- Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA): $1,822,667
ESG funds from the CARES Act are assisting sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness, as well as very low-income households (earning less than 50% of Area Median Income) at risk of homelessness. The funds can be used for eviction prevention assistance, including rapid rehousing, housing counseling, rental deposit assistance and other purposes.
HOPWA funds are being used for rental assistance and other services necessary to meet the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.
CDBG funds are being used for housing and community development activities that primarily benefit low- to moderate-income residents. Local recipients of CDBG funds can decide to spend a portion of their CARES Act allocation on housing.
Many Illinois communities committed a portion of their CDBG funds to support programs creating affordable housing and ending homelessness. These communities include Aurora, Chicago, Bloomington, Evanston, Normal, Rock Island, Springfield, Urbana, Waukegan, Lake County, McHenry County, and Will County.
In addition, using Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars from the CARES Act, the State of Illinois and at least two local governments (Chicago and Cook County) committed additional resources for rent and mortgage assistance. The State of Illinois, through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), committed more CRF resources for rent and mortgage assistance than any other state. The resulting Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) and Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) programs disbursed more than $324,000,000 in past due rent and mortgage payments helping keep over 56,000 households safe and sheltered at home during the pandemic.
Research & Guidance on Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
- U.S. Department of the Treasury: Emergency Rental Assistance Program: The federal rental assistance funds approved in December 2020 are being administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Their program webpage has numerous program resources, including a revised FAQ document, released in February 2021, addressing many of the flaws in previously released guidance. However, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) sent a subsequent letter to Treasury asking or additional improvements and clarifications. Hopefully, an updated FAQ will be released soon.
- How to Establish and Improve Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: This May 2021 report from NLIHC and the National League of Cities shares principles and best practice programs. Read report »
- Prioritization in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: A Framework of Strategies, Policies, and Procedures to Better Serve Priority Populations: This April 2020 report from NLIHC and the Center for Law and Social Policy’s outlines how emergency rental assistance programs can incorporate strategies, policies, and procedures that embed equity and give priority to renters most impacted by COVID-19 and at greatest risk of housing instability. Read report »
- Learning from Emergency Rental Assistance Programs: Lessons from Fifteen Case Studies (NLIHC, NYU Furman Center, Housing Initiative at Penn) examines 15 emergency rental assistance programs and how they evolved to better serve renters, especially the lowest-income and most marginalized renters. The report focuses on the key challenges programs administrators faced, the innovative strategies they used to address these challenges, and the lessons current and future program administrators can take away. Read report »
- Advancing Racial Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs (NLIHC, NYU Furman Center, Housing Initiative at Penn) discusses five general strategies for advancing racial equity, based on lessons learned from a survey of 220 emergency rental assistances and interviews with program administrators. The lessons include ensuring that funding allocations are based on jurisdictional need; targeting assistance to groups with more vulnerabilities, including prioritizing applications from certain populations or neighborhoods; investing in outreach, including partnering with trusted community organizations; simplifying applications and documentation requirements; and monitoring program processes and outcomes and making mid-course corrections. Read report »
- COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance: Analysis of a National Survey of Programs (NLIHC, NYU Furman Center, Housing Initiative at Penn) provides an analysis of key emergency rental assistance program design and implementation decisions from a national survey of over 200 program administrators. The report examines program decisions against several outcome metrics, including a ratio of actual number of applicants to expected number of applicants and funds obligated as a share of total program funds. Read report »
Learn about other COVID-19 resources related to housing and homelessness »