Cook County Emergency Rental Assistance Program

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Cook County, Ill., IL

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About the Program

Category: Community and Economic Development (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

With the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic, many Suburban Cook County residents lost employment or confronted other negative economic impacts that jeopardized their housing stability, with minority communities being acutely harmed. While federal eviction moratoriums provided temporary respite, the cessation of moratoriums left residents confronting threats of eviction and accompanying emotional and psychological stresses. The County established multiple emergency rental assistance programs, leading the coordination with state and city programs to address every housing instability component: Homeless Services, Crisis Shelter, Utility Payments, Debt Relief Counseling and Eviction Prevention. The County also established a unique court-based program, which situated case managers within the courts to directly support eviction applicants. The results were an unmitigated success – the state courts emphasized that this aid helped subvert thousands of evictions (>4,000) and thwarted a likely state housing crisis, while creating a new model of support for the future. The minority and low-income communities were those that received overwhelming support, representing approximately 80% of applications serviced, with an average Area Median Income (AMI) below 25%. The County programs have thus far resulted in approximately $160 M being disbursed to approximately 14,000 households (possibly >30,000 residents), with more to come.