Visit to connect to a service provider who can help people apply for rent assistance and for free legal assistance.

Some Illinois counties have emergency programs that are currently open. Additional rounds of emergency rent will be available from the State of Illinois and local governments soon. Check the status of programs below.

State of Illinois Programs

    • The Illinois Rental Payment Program, administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), accepted applications for their first round of funding until June 14 and for their second round until July 18. Another round of assistance will open in fall 2021.
    • People can also apply for rent assistance and secure other services, such as legal help and case management, through an agency funded by Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

Visit and contact an agency in IDHS’ provider network to apply for emergency rent assistance.

Building on the State’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program, the State’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget authorizes an expansion of the LIHEAP and CSBG programs for eligible Illinoisans seeking assistance to cover costs of utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities. Apply for assistance at

County and City of Chicago Programs

    • Champaign County: Program now open »
    • City of Chicago: Both the programs operated by the Department of Housing and the Department of Family & Support Services are currently closed. They will reopen later this year.  Learn more »
      • However, NHS of Chicago is currently accepting applications through their neighborhood offices. Program now open »
      • Also, some other City of Chicago delegate agencies have emergency rent assistance dollars available until their funds run out. See the list of Community Organizations the City of Chicago has funded. Programs now open »  
      • Funded through IDHS, All Chicago also has an online portal for people to apply for assistance. Program now open »
    • Cook County (suburban residents only): Applications for both renters and landlords open on October 4, 2021. The deadline to apply is October 29, 2021.  Program now open »
    • DuPage County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Another round of assistance to open in fall 2021. Learn more »
    • Kane County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Another round of assistance to open in fall 2021. Learn more »
    • Lake County: Program now open »
    • Madison County: Program now open »
    • McHenry County: Program now open »
    • Will County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Another round of assistance to open in fall 2021. Learn more »
    • Winnebago County: The program will reopen October 1 through October 15, 2021.  Program now open »
    • St. Clair County: Program in partnership with IHDA. Another round of assistance to open in fall 2021. Learn more »

In addition, the State of Illinois’ court-based emergency rent assistance program started on September 15, 2021, except for Cook County. The Cook County program will start around the end of September or early in October. The program is only open to tenants and landlords with a pending eviction case filed in court. An Illinois Supreme Court order requires the court summons to have information about how to apply for the program attached. The tenant initiates the application process.

Free legal help for Illinois renters facing potential eviction landlords not represented by a lawyer is available from

For the State of Illinois, Cook County and Chicago programs, provides details on eligibility requirements and documents people will need in order to apply.

We will post links to other programs as they become available.

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.

Additional Resources for People At Risk of Homelessness:

If you are need additional resources to help pay your rent, 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 »