Up to 250,000 Cook County households face eviction if Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn’t extend the statewide moratorium that expires on Saturday.
That was County Sheriff Tom Dart’s dire warning, which he sent in a letter to the governor and County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, formally asking to extend the eviction ban past Aug. 22, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Failing to extend the moratorium, Dart said, would force residents into shelters or into their relatives or friends’ homes, which could increase the potential spread of the coronavirus.
Dart’s request sought to extend the ban, “at least for long enough to allow for full distribution of Illinois, Cook County and City of Chicago assistance funds.” Pritzker imposed the eviction ban in late March, and has issued extensions.
Last month, Chicago said it would provide $33 million to struggling renters and homeowners. Mayor Lori Lightfoot estimated that 10,000 households would avoid eviction and foreclosure because of the new funds. That money — funded by government stimulus and local benefactors — follows a similar Covid-related housing assistance program in early April, which only awarded a total of $2 million. The initial round provided $1,000 grants to a total of just 2,000 people out of the roughly 83,000 who applied.
In late June, a group of landlords filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the moratorium, arguing the temporary order has jeopardized their businesses and livelihoods. The freeze “ties the hands of housing providers to enforce our lease agreements,” the lawsuit read.
But Dart called the eviction moratorium “a critical component of ensuring economic stability along with government efforts to aid both tenants and property owners.” The sheriff, whose office enforces evictions, said his department has spoken with “hundreds of anxious residents and landlords” to offer them assistance.
Pritzker’s office did not return a request for comment, the Sun-Times reported. [Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman