Watch Now: Coles County Social Services and Justice System Prepare for End of Eviction Moratorium | Local
CHARLESTON – Social service organizations and the Coles County court system are preparing for the Illinois moratorium on residential evictions to expire on Sunday and they have already received an influx of inquiries from tenants.
“We are seeing an increase right now. There is a big increase,” said Sandy Deters, housing coordinator for the Embarras River Basin Agency, of requests for rent assistance, an increase also reported. by the local Salvation Army. She noted that ERBA recently opened a Coles County-West office, 416 S. 17th St., in Mattoon to meet the growing demand for rent assistance and other social services, and to complement its Coles office. County-East, 696 Castle Drive, Charleston. .
Deters said she had seen requests for help from tenants ranging from those who were a few months behind on rent to those living in uninhabitable places. She said the ERBA helps clients apply for various programs, such as the Illinois Department of Social Services Emergency Rental Assistance Program. She said they have a priority waiting list for services, like helping a family living in a vehicle before a single person stays on a friend’s couch.
The Illinois moratorium will expire more than 18 months after it was first enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disruption that accompanies it. Governor JB Pritzker has extended the moratorium on several occasions. The state had planned to lift the moratorium on August 31, but Pritzker once again extended it until October 3 to match a new federal deportation ban. The federal moratorium was overturned by the United States Supreme Court, but it had no impact on the state moratorium.
Deters said the pandemic and the moratorium on evictions have also created challenges for landlords in the area who have lost the rental income they need to pay their mortgages and property taxes, and to repair their rental properties.
âIt’s just a big trickle down, a spiral,â Deters said.
For low-income people facing eviction proceedings, Deters recommended that they apply to an Illinois Housing Development Authority expedited assistance program for evictions. She said they should also contact Land of Lincoln legal aid as soon as possible and inquire about their legal rights in these proceedings.
Landlords must provide the tenant with a certificate giving them the opportunity to explain whether they have been affected by the coronavirus or the ramifications of mass unemployment caused by the pandemic.
“If the tenant does not provide this certificate to the landlord, then the landlord can seek to have them evicted,” said circuit judge Mark Bovard, who has overseen numerous eviction cases in the area throughout the pandemic. “I have to make sure that the owner follows all the necessary measures set out by the Supreme Court and the Governor.”
If the tenant does not provide a notification, the landlord can request their eviction.
The Coles County Circuit Court clerk’s office has provided rental assistance information in a wealth of government assistance information.
âWe help them if they want to,â Bovard said. “It is up to them, however, to follow up.”
Renters in the area are late at a higher rate than they would be without the pandemic, Bovard said, but the exact reason is currently unknown.
âI think the tenants got the impression that ‘Well there’s a moratorium, I’m not responsible for the rent,’â Bovard said. “They’re not, they’re still responsible for the rent, it’s just that landlords have to go through certain steps before they can evict those paying the rent.”
Miranda Quast, executive director of the Coles County Housing Authority, said the US Department of Housing and Urban Development had advised public housing authorities not to enforce evictions yet and instead focus on repayment agreements with tenants in arrears of rent.
Quast said the Housing Authority is following this HUD guideline for its three properties in Mattoon – Park Tower, one bedroom units; and the East Rudy Avenue and West Park Plaza apartment complex, two- to four-bedroom units.
âAnyone in need of low-cost housing is welcome to apply, and we have availability,â Quast said.
Contact Rob Stroud at 217-238-6861.