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Funds available to those behind on rent, mortgage

Funds available to those behind on rent, mortgage

WILL COUNTY – Will County residents behind on rent or mortgage because of the impact of COVID-19 have a consortium of local agencies to apply to for payment assistance.

Martha Sojka, Administrator for the Community Development Division of the Will County Land Use Department, said the County is coordinating four agencies dispersing a variety of federal funds to help families stay housed during the pandemic.

The four agencies are:  Will County Center for Community Concerns, (815) 722-0722; Spanish Community Center (815) 727-3683; Catholic Charities, (815) 774-4663; and Community Service Council (815) 886-5000.

Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said, “Between them, these four agencies have been awarded more than a million dollars of CARES Act relief funds to help those who are behind on rent, mortgage and utilities because the pandemic has caused them to lose their jobs, have a reduction in hours or created other hardships.”

Funds are available to those at least one month behind on rent. Utility assistance is also available for those who qualify.

“Renters behind on rent should not wait to apply for funds,” said Sojka. Once the eviction moratorium is lifted, renters will be liable for all the months which are unpaid. If families don’t seek assistance now, “they’re just prolonging the inevitable.”

Sojka added, “It’s much more difficult for a family to find housing after an eviction filing and really important that renters are actively working with their landlords to stay housed.”

Renters having difficulty working with their landlords and facing eviction are encouraged to contact Prairie State Legal, another HUD CARES funded program, at (815) 727-5123.

Owners behind on their mortgages are encouraged to work with their mortgage companies on forbearance options.  If those options are not available or exhausted, assistance is available for families behind on mortgage payments as well. Certified housing counselors are available at Will County Center for Community Concerns and Community Service Council.

Sojka recommended those needing help should call one of the agencies to determine eligibility. Each agency has different criteria and requires different supporting documents, depending upon the federal funds it has received.  All agencies are taking in applications over the phone and most of the process can be handled electronically.

Part of the process is making sure the landlord, mortgage holder or utility company will accept third-party payment. “The funds are given directly to the provider,” she said.

If all the required documents are submitted in a timely fashion, in some instances, it can take as little as two weeks for funds to be disbursed.

Agencies also differ in the amount of time they can help households catch up depending upon the funding source, Sojka said. It can be one to three months of help.

Sojka said households only need to call one of the participating agencies to apply.  If there are additional resources that another participating agency can provide, a referral will be given. 

“The most important thing,” said Bertino-Tarrant, “is to take that first step and call one of these participating agencies if you are one or more months behind on your rent, mortgage or utilities. These are unprecedented times and these funds are there to help.”

For additional information go to www.willcountylanduse.com.

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