CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker has announced a $900 million effort to provide financial assistance to renters, homeowners, businesses, and others hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and by recent looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Funded by a combination of federal coronavirus stimulus dollars and state grants, Pritzker said the funding is aimed at easing the financial burden of the virus outbreak and recent civil unrest.
“We are in a moment that requires a historic effort to mitigate this virus’s devastating effects on the health and livelihoods of the residents of this state,” Pritzker said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The state is launching a $150 million program to provide $5,000 grants to tenants unable to pay their bills, starting in August, until the funds are exhausted. Eligible tenants must have an unpaid balance of rent since March 1. The assistance they receive from the state will go directly to their landlord or property owner. In exchange, landlords must agree not to evict tenants through the end of the year.
In addition, the state will provide another $150 million in mortgage assistance grants of up to $15,000 each for homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage due to the pandemic, also starting in August. Only honeowners with overdue mortgage payments, or who are already in forbearance, will be eligible to apply. Homeowners must be able to verify a loss of income since March 1 due to COVID-19. The grants will be paid directly to homeowners’ loan servicers.
Starting in July, another $60 million will go to “Business Interruption Grants” for up to 3,500 businesses that were forced to close or scale back operations due to COVID-19. The state will distribute funds to eligible businesses, which must demonstrate significant losses since March, and a likelihood of continued loss in revenue. Businesses also must have been open for at least three months prior to March. The governor’s office said the state will place an emphasis on businesses located in areas that have suffered property damage due to civil unrest. The governor’s office said the program eventually will provide a total of at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, with half of the money set aside for childcare providers.
The state also will provide another $25 million in support to businesses that were damaged during looting after George Floyd’s death. The money will be used to reimburse businesses for the cost of structural repairs, and will place a priority on small businesses, women- and minority-owned companies, uninsured and underinsured businesses, businesses in communities with historic disinvestment, and businesses with “high community impact” such as grocery stores.
Another $32.5 million will be used to alleviate poverty through a variety of strategies, including stipends for unemployed adults to help rebuild businesses, grants for summer youth programs, assistance for food banks, aid for Black and Brown farmers, funding for mental health services, and more.