February 9, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult for people across the country, especially renters who have been unable to work, experienced reduced hours, or lost their jobs. Now through its new Emergency Rent Assistance program, the RPC is looking to help renters in Champaign County by providing funds to cover past-due rent and other past-due bills like power, water, and sewer.
Champaign County residents can start the screening process by contacting the Emergency Rent Assistance program call center at 877-548-4205 between 12-7pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays. In order to promote safety during the pandemic, the RPC’s offices (1776 E. Washington Street in Urbana) will be open by appointment only and those without appointments will directed back to the call center to schedule an appointment. Facemasks will be required.
Households prioritized for assistance include those with an individual who has received unemployment payments from the State of Illinois (IDES) for 90 days prior to applying, and those with an income at or below 50 percent of the area median. The RPC has set up a special page on its website at www.ccrpc.org/ERA with more details on eligibility requirements.
“I’m excited that the RPC has been provided this opportunity to work directly with our community to bring much-needed relief to the renters and landlords in Champaign County,” says Lisa Benson, the RPC’s Community Services Director. “There are many factors we have had to consider in designing this program, such as the need to serve many households promptly, needing to avoid large gatherings in line with pandemic safety precautions, keeping the application requirements as simple as possible, and meeting the documentation and reporting requirements of the Department of Treasury. We have worked very hard to design a program that accounts for all these factors. We anticipate that the program’s levels of assistance for eligible applicants will clear their past-due rent and utility amounts that have accrued throughout the pandemic.”
Residents are encouraged to call 877-548-4205 now to schedule an appointment for the Emergency Rent Assistance program that will begin scheduled in-person appointments on Friday, February 26. People applying for the program are required to bring several items to their appointments, or they will have to reschedule. These items include:
- Photo identification
- A copy of their lease (or a letter from their landlord confirming their status as a renter)
- Copies of ALL their most recent past-due bills (rent ledger from April 2020 – present, power, water, sewer)
- The name of their landlord, along with his/her phone number and e-mail address
- Proof of income
- Copy of Tax Year 2020 Form 1040 as filed with the IRS for the household, or
- Copy of the last 60 days of income for all household members
- As applicable, proof that they have received unemployment payments in the 90 days prior to their application appointment
- Printout of weekly Illinois Department of Employment Securities (IDES) payments for a household member for the 90 days prior to their application appointment
RPC client Shelly Griffet was asked to test the application process and was impressed with its simplicity. “I found the application easy to read and simple to complete,” she says. “I thought the documents I needed to bring might be hard to get. Don’t let this hold you back! The effort we spend bringing everything asked for is critical to getting the assistance our families need.” She strongly encourages people in Champaign County to apply, saying, “We are fortunate to have the RPC helping our community keep roofs over our heads. You may be surprised that help is here for many who assume ineligibility! Please don’t let this opportunity pass you by.”
The Emergency Rent Assistance program will run until all funds are expended. The project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number 21.023, awarded to the RPC by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“The RPC’s Emergency Rent Assistance program will offer housing stability to thousands of households,” Benson stresses. “The need in Champaign County likely exceeds the funding allocation, so time is of the essence. We ask people to call today to schedule their appointments.”