White House praises Will County for distributing rental assistance

The county is using a state agency to distribute up to $40.5 million to help tenants, landlords in need

The White House recognized the Will County government’s quick efforts to distribute $20 million in federal emergency rental assistance to tenants and landlords affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the White House showcased state and local leaders during an event at which Gene Sperling, the White House American Rescue Plan coordinator, mentioned Will County for its work allocating the aid.

“We want people from other mayor and government county offices, for people who cover this, to see first-hand how the emergency rental assistance plan can work where we have the leadership and the use of the Treasury flexibilities that are available,” Sperling said in a statement. “The emergency rental assistance is so far making a meaningful impact on preventing evictions, but there remains a meaningful and painful gap that must be closed.”

The county said last week more aid was still available for tenants in need. The Illinois Housing Development Authority which is administering the aid on behalf of the county, is still reviewing applications and prioritizing requests for tenants who are unemployed and with very low incomes.

The use of the IHDA to distribute the aid allows the funds to be distributed more quickly, and provides more aid than the county’s $20 million allocation, according to county spokesman Mike Theodore. Ultimately if all the nearly 3,700 applications are approved, up to $40.5 million could be distributed.

Theodore said about $13 million has been distributed to landlords in the county thus far.

Applicants are eligible for up to 15 months of assistance. The grant can cover past due rent from the previous 12 months and future rental for three months, if deemed necessary. The maximum grant amount is $25,000.

“As the eviction moratorium expires, and the Delta Variant is on the rise, we remain dedicated to helping those affected by offering additional assistance through Will County,” Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, said in a statement.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.