Panel follows on heels of White House recognition
“I’m very proud of the way that Will County has administered our rental assistance program and I’m honored to be asked to moderate this panel on ERA best practices,” said Winfrey. “Our dedication to our residents is why Will County government is a role model for counties throughout the United States.
The Will County Administrator for the Community Development Division of the Will County Land Use Department, Martha Sojka, will be a participant in the panel. Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant’s Chief of Staff, Mitchell Schaben will also be a participant on the panel.
Last week, Will County was highlighted by the White House for rapidly delivering rental assistance to tenants in the county, staving off evictions as the pandemic upended the economy and threatened housing stability for many renters. The county was one of 22 state and local governments that were highlighted by the Biden Administration for delivering 85% or more of their rental assistance funds by the end of July.
In March of 2021, the Board authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to coordinate Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) for individuals and families struggling to pay rent in Will County.
As part of the pandemic relief plan, the United States Treasury granted $20.6 million to Will County for rental assistance. The County has worked closely with IHDA, which also received a grant from the federal government, so services would not be duplicated, and maximum relief would be provided for residents. The ERA provides direct financial assistance for rent and utilities.
“Landlords and renters alike have been helped by the ERA program,” said Minority Leader Mike Fricilone (Homer Glen). “The assistance we were able to provide because of our partnership with the state and the funding provided by the federal government is really incalculable because of the potential disaster that we averted.”
The ERA program provides up to nine months of back rent and three months of future rental expense. The assistance also helped landlords who have seen rents dry up even as the cost of maintaining their buildings continues.
“We delivered the help that we promised to renters in Will County,” said Majority Leader Meta Mueller (Aurora). “I’m incredibly proud of the work that the Board did to ensure that these funds kept people in their homes when their jobs and income had been threatened.”
Renter households under 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) were targeted for the ERA program, for example, a family of four making $72,800 or less. Among that group, households below 50 percent of AMI and the long-term unemployed were prioritized. Ninety percent of the funds the county received must be used for rent and utility assistance with only ten percent allowed for administrative costs and housing ability services.