Rental assistance in McHenry County remains available even with new federal moratorium in the works

Rental assistance is available to those struggling to pay rent who could be at risk of getting evicted once a federal moratorium is lifted, according to McHenry County officials.

Help for both renters and landlords is available for up to 18 months, the county said in a news release Tuesday. Aid is also available to cover debt up to a year old.

“If you’re having trouble keeping up because of the pandemic, I urge you to apply for relief,” County Board Chairman Mike Buehler said in a statement.

The nation’s ban on evictions ended Aug. 1, but a new one is in the works, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Either way, no one in Illinois was be evicted during the month of August because the state was working to phase out the end of the moratorium. While landlords could file for eviction this month, no renter would be evicted until Sept. 1 under the state’s plan.

The Biden administration is expected to announce a new 60-day eviction moratorium that would protect areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, including McHenry County, the Associated Press reported, citing three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium that would be for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.

While the McHenry County Department of Health categorizes the spread of COVID-19 locally as “moderate,” the CDC classified the county as “substantial,” meaning it would qualify for the new moratorium.

McHenry County’s rental assistance program has given out $2.6 million since it began in March as a way to help people struggling to pay their housing bills, Buehler said.

The program is designed to help those most in need in McHenry County. The first benchmark applicants must meet is to be at or below 80% of the area’s median income. Applicants at or below 50% of the area’s median income or with dependents or senior citizens at home get priority.

McHenry County has been able to make funds available to both renters and landlords because of federal stimulus dollars allocated by Congress last year. The county received $9.12 million from the federal government to prevent evictions because of personal income losses during the pandemic. The funds are meant to allow landlords to receive income and allow renters to pay rent, even if finances are strained.

For those needing assistance in McHenry County, the county runs a website at McHenryRent.com, where people can apply for assistance. Help is also available by calling the McHenry County Housing Authority at 815-338-7752.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.