COVID-19: Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance and Information for Renters

COVID-19: Information for Renters

CPAH’s Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance Program and other information and resources for renters affected by COVID-19.

 

CPAH’s Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance Program (ERAP)

CPAH is administering an Emergency Rent & Utility Assistance Program to help Lake County households whose incomes have decreased due to COVID-19. Eligible households may receive up to three-months’ rent (maximum assistance $4,500 per household), based on need and as funds allow. Assistance can be provided for rent and utilities dating back to March 1st. Applications are available below. You may also obtain an application by emailing our Intake Coordinator, Janice Rosales, at jrosales@cpahousing.org or by calling 847-263-7478 ext 10.

Key eligibility criteria:

  • Annual GROSS household income (i.e. the combined pre-tax income from all sources for all members of the household) cannot exceed the below limits. Income limits are based on household size.
  • Total readily available assets (any monies in banks, credit unions, certificates of deposit and cash on hand) for all members of the household must be less than $7,500.
  • Applicants are not eligible if they are receiving housing choice vouchers or other federal or state housing subsidies (you should contact the administrator of your program to request an interim income re-certification in order to adjust your tenant contribution).
  • Applicants must have a documented loss of income of at least 10% due to COVID-19 (layoff or furlough notice, reduction of hours, business closed, required to quarantine, caring for school-aged children, etc.).
  • Program recipients may not receive duplicate rental assistance from other sources to cover the same expense.

Program Income Limits

Household Size
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
80% AMI
$51,000
$58,250
$65,550
$72,800
$78,6500
$84,450
$90,300
$96,100

Application Forms

How to Submit Your Application

Applications are accepted by email, fax, mail and drop-off to our main office (details are listed on the application form). If you submit your application via email (our preferred and fastest method), we strongly encourage you to submit your application through our Secure Message Center. Registration is free and takes less than a minute. Once registered, you can use the system to send encrypted information and emails to CPAH staff, which is a much safer way to electronically send personal information.

Tenant Application Forms
Property Owner / Landlord Forms

About the program:

Applicants can submit their full application packet to our Intake Coordinator, Janice Rosales, by email at jrosales@cpahousing.org , by fax at 847-796-8060, or by mailing or dropping off their application packet to the drop box at our main office located at 800 S Milwaukee Ave, Suite 201, Libertyville, IL 60048. Please do not submit a partial application packet; call our Intake Coordinator if you are having difficulty with the application or obtaining necessary supporting documentation.

A full application packet consists of:

  • ERAP program application with release of information form
  • Documentation of COVID-19 impact
  • Documentation of income
  • Documentation of current assets
  • Utility statement (if seeking utility assistance)
  • Any additional information deemed necessary to verify eligibility for the program

CPAH will strive to review all complete applications within five (5) business days of receipt. Applicants will be notified in writing as to the status of their application:

  • Application Approved
  • Application Denied – reason(s) for denial / ineligibility will be provided
  • Application Incomplete – additional information is needed within (5) business days
  • Application Wait Listed – application is approved but on a wait list pending additional funding

If approved, CPAH will contact the property owner or property manager listed on the Release of Information form to collect the (i) Landlord Verification Form, (ii) Landlord W-9 form, and (iii) Landlord ACH Form (if landlord desires electronic funds transfer).

CPAH will strive to issue payment within 5 business days of receiving the completed landlord forms. Payment will be issued directly to the landlord. Program recipients are encouraged to contact the property owner or property manager once they are notified that their application is approved; this may help encourage landlords to return necessary forms in a timely manner. Payment cannot be issued without the landlord verification form and W-9 form. If landlord forms are not returned within 5 business days of CPAH’s initial contact with landlord, funds may be reallocated to another applicant.

Approved program recipients may request subsequent month(s) of rent and/or utility assistance by completing the ERAP Self Certification for Continued Assistance form attesting to the need for on-going financial support. CPAH will include a copy of this form with the applicant’s approval letter. It is also available above.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the assistance maximum? 
Eligible households may receive rent assistance equal to the lesser of three-months’ rent or $4,500.

Will I be paid directly? How quickly will I be paid?  
CPAH will issue rent or utility assistance payments directly to the landlord or utility company. Once your application is approved and CPAH has received all necessary Landlord Forms, CPAH will seek to issue payment within 5 business days. Payments made via Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) will usually be credited to the landlord or utility company’s account within 24 hours of CPAH issuing payment. Payment via check may take 5-10 days to receive from the date that CPAH issues payment. We encourage landlords/property owners to sign up for EFT.

Are stimulus checks under the CARES Act counted as household income or toward the $7,500 readily available asset limit?  
Household stimulus payments are not included in calculations of income, but they are included towards the asset limit.

Is unemployment insurance counted as household income?
Regular payments of State unemployment insurance is treated as income. However, the temporary $600 per week Federal enhancement to unemployment insurance provided by the CARES Act will not be included in calculations of income.


Other Rental Assistance Programs

The following organizations may also offer rental assistance to households impacted by COVID-19:


Eviction Protections

Different jurisdictions have different tenant protections. Below are the key protections in our area:

  • Gubernatorial Executive Orders state that residential evictions in Illinois will not be enforced until June 27, 2020.
  • The Lake County Sheriff’s office indicated that it will not enforce eviction notices “until further notice.”
  • The Federal “CARES Act” prohibits landlords who have a federally backed mortgage and landlords participating in most federal housing programs from filing evictions for non-payment of rent until July 25th and prohibits late fees through that period; after that a 30-day notice is required for evictions. Although not a comprehensive list, tenants can search the three databases below to help determine whether their apartment is subject to the CARES Act eviction moratorium. The below tools list properties that have 5 or more units. If you rent a home or apartment in a building with less than 5 units or you don’t find your apartment in any of the databases, you can also try asking your landlord whether they are subject to the CARES Act.

Please note that none of these protections remove a renter’s financial obligation to their landlord. If you can pay your rent, you should. Beware that not all of these protections prevent your landlord from filing an eviction case against you. Even if your landlord can’t enforce an eviction against you, a filed eviction could stay on your record for years and make it more difficult to find housing in the future. If your landlord does file an eviction case against you during the COVID-19 crisis, you are encouraged to get legal help.

It is illegal for landlords to force or pressure tenants to leave without going through the eviction process. Landlords are not legally allowed to change locks, remove doors or windows, turn off utilities, or remove tenant belongings without going through the formal legal eviction process.


Tips for Renters

  • Slides from CPAH’s April 29, 2020 “Information for Renters” Presentation.
  • Landlords cannot show your apartment during the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation period.
  • If your income decreased as a result of COVID-19 and you currently receive a housing voucher or project-based housing subsidy, contact the program administrator right away to request an interim income re-certification to lower your rent contribution. Here is a sample letter requesting an interim re certification.
  • Contact your landlord early and often if you know that you will have trouble paying rent due to COVID-19. Here is a sample letter. Keep all communication with your landlord in writing whenever possible, especially any agreement to reduce or defer rent because of COVID-19.
  • Avoid cash payments without receipts.
  • Develop a realistic budget and attempt to develop a repayment plan with your landlord. CPAH’s HUD-Certified Housing Counselors offers free financial counseling and can help you with “Crisis Budgeting.”
  • When speaking with your landlord, utility companies and other lenders, consider asking the following questions:
    • When will you expect me to repay my missed payments?
    • Are payment plans available?
    • What fines and fees will I be subject to?
    • Will my outstanding balance accrue interest?
  • The Illinois Commerce Commission ordered that no utilities (gas, electricity, water and sewage) nor threats of shut-off are allowed during the period covered by the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation period (currently set to expire April 30th but may be extended).
  • If you’ve lost employment income, you can file for unemployment benefits at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)