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Illinois Courts response to COVID-19

Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Court-based rental assistance program – What does this mean for your court?

9/28/2021

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), in partnership with the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, and All Chicago, launched a Court-Based Rental Assistance Program (CBRAP) available to tenants and landlords across the state (outside of Cook County). On a parallel and coordinated track, Cook County is launching its court-based rental assistance program in early October to leverage separate funding received from the U.S. Treasury and to integrate the program into its Early Resolution Program.

The State of Illinois has allocated up to $60 million to the CBRAP, which is only available to litigants in eviction court. Litigants must have experienced financial hardship, directly or indirectly, due to the pandemic and may qualify for a one-time grant matched to their specific need to cover up to 12 months of past due rent and 3 months of future rent to prevent eviction and homelessness.

This program aims to prevent evictions due to nonpayment of rent. As a condition of receiving rental assistance (from the CBRAP as well as the other rental assistance programs), landlords agree to dismiss the pending eviction for nonpayment of rent. To connect litigants to this important information prior to their first court date, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order requiring notice of the new court-based program be provided to all tenants in eviction court. The order requires all summons issued in residential eviction cases to include a notice regarding the CBRAP. The new order and attached notice can be found here. Circuits may modify the CBRAP notice to the extent necessary to communicate more relevant local information.

The CBRAP application is a joint process that begins with the tenant. Both the tenant and landlords must complete their sections and submit documentation at ilrpp.ihda.org, including an eviction complaint and summons. Proof of citizenship is not required, and community partners are available to assist applicants with limited English proficiency or inadequate technology at 866-ILHELP1 (866-454-3571). The CBRAP will allow for expedited processing and will have a designated phone number for court employees to call and ask questions about the court-specific program. For court stakeholders interested in more information and resources about shepherding cases through the CBRAP, please contact Sarah Song, Senior Program Manager, Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, at ssong@illinoiscourts.gov.

In addition to the significant rental assistance funds available to people in eviction court, free legal aid and mediation services are also available statewide in English and Spanish. For all counties outside of Cook, visit evictionhelpillinois.org or call 855-631-0811. In Cook County, landlords and tenants can visit cookcountylegalaid.org or call 855-956-5763. Landlords and tenants not in eviction court can still apply for rental assistance through IDHS’ network of service providers. To find your local provider, visit illinoisrentalassistance.org.

In a letter from Chief Justice Anne Burke to court stakeholders, she stated: “While we are facing an unprecedented housing crisis, we also have a unique opportunity to connect litigants with significant and much needed financial relief.” Judges have been encouraged to share information about these important programs and to give landlords and tenants time to take advantage of this unique rental assistance opportunity as well as other available resources to prevent evictions, provide financial relief to landlords, and ensure housing stability.