A Call to Action as The Illinois Eviction Moratorium Phases Out

Post Authored By: Radhika Aggarwal

Evictions disproportionately affect communities of color, members of protected classes including individuals with disabilities, women, and children.[1] Evictions result in homelessness, lack of a sense of community, loss of possessions, and most significantly a hefty red flag that follows individuals with an eviction on their record for years.[2] “Evictions are not just the result of poverty; they are a cause of poverty.”[3] The housing crisis has made finding affordable housing difficult for many people working minimum wage jobs resulting in an increasing number of evictions.[4]

Evictions are not just hard on tenants. They are also difficult for landlords especially in affordable housing communities. While a court action begins when a landlord files for an eviction, the eviction process begins with the notice (5 day for nonpayment, 10 days for other lease violations) prior to commencement of a court proceeding. When landlords are unable to collect rent and tenants are unable to make rent the results are devastating. Landlords are forced to cut operating costs which decreases the overall quality of life and engage in costly litigation that often result in favor of the landlords.[5] Furthermore, evictions can have an adverse effect on community stability. When there are a lot of empty buildings and increased homelessness, the overall sense of community is lessened and potential for harm can surge. While many landlords are represented by counsel, tenants often proceed without representation.[6]  Simply put… evictions possess challenges for all those involved.

Housing is not a want. It is a need. The Biden-Harris Administration recognized the need for a plan to prevent evictions and promote housing stability. It is no surprise that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic our nation was facing a significant housing crisis. The pandemic has only exacerbated the predicament. Gene Sperling, President Biden’s Senior Advisor explained, “We as a nation have never had a national infrastructure to prevent unnecessary evictions. Indeed, even before the pandemic, our nation averaged 3.6 million evictions a year for missing rent as little as $500.”[7]

On June 30, 2021, the Biden Administration called for an “all hands-on-deck effort by local governments, courts, community organizations, and the legal community to create alternatives to evictions”[8] and to curb the nation’s ongoing eviction crisis. During the White House Eviction Prevention Summit the White House highlighted steps states could take to mitigate evictions and prevent them altogether.[9]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) extended the evictions moratorium from June 30, 2021, until July 31, 2021.[10]

Evictions are set to resume in Illinois starting next month. Though these bans are set to expire soon, things can change quickly. Governor Pritzker is set to issue an Executive Order on July 23, “that allows eviction filings against covered persons to begin on August 1. The current prohibition on enforcement of eviction orders entered against covered persons will remain in place until August 31. Enforcement of eviction orders entered against covered persons will be allowed after August 31.”[11]

The Governor’s Office expressed on July 14, 2021, that “through a coordinated approach, we hope to relieve the potential pressure on the court system while also ensuring that tenants and landlords have every opportunity to benefit from the State’s rental assistance programs.”

The good news is that help is available. While the Illinois Rental Payment Program (ILRPP) deadline has passed, The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) has programs available, with no deadline, for rental assistance and eviction mediation.[12]

In addition, UIC Law’s Fair Housing Legal Clinic has a long history of representing individuals who have been denied housing because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, marital status, age, source of income, sexual orientation, and other protected classes.

The UIC Law Fair Housing Clinic’s mission is to help educate the public about fair housing laws and provide legal assistance to private or public organizations that seek to eliminate discriminatory housing practices and assist individuals facing fair housing issues.[13] The Clinic offers testing services, can assist with mediation, filing suit, and engaging in settlement negotiations, and court proceedings in various jurisdictions.

UIC Law Fair Housing Clinic is located at 300 S. State Street Chicago, IL 60604.

The Clinic can be reached via phone at (312) 786-2267 or via email at law-fairhousingcenter@uic.edu. To apply for Legal Assistance visit https://law.uic.edu/experiential-education/clinics/fairhousing/clients/discrimination-form/.

[1] See Gracie Himmelstein, Eviction And Health: A Vicious Cycle Exacerbated By A Pandemic, (Princeton University, Health Affairs Health Policy Brief, April 2021) and Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Initiatives to Promote Housing Stability By Supporting Vulnerable Tenants and Preventing Foreclosures, The White House (June 24, 2021) (on file with the author).

[2] Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, New York: Crown. (2017).

[3] Housing Action Illinois, Eviction In Illinois, (July 19, 2021) https://housingactionil.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/eviction/.

[4] Parolin, Z., M. Curran, J.D. Matsudaira, J. Waldfogel, and C. Wimer. Monthly poverty rates in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, Center on Poverty & Social Policy. New York: Columbia University. (2020).

[5] Philip ME Garboden and Eva Rosen, The High Cost of Eviction and Low Cost of Filing, City & Community (2019).

[6] Eviction in Illinois, Housing Action Illinois, (February 2019 report).

[7] Words of Gene Sperling, White House Eviction Prevention Summit, (YouTube broadcast July 8, 2021, published by The White House).

[8] Supra Fact Sheet, The White House.

[9] Id.

[10] Order under 42 U.S.C 264 and 42 Code of Fed. Reg. 70.2, Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent The Future Spread of COVID-19, CDC Prevention Department of Health and Human Services, (effective through July 31, 2021, subject to change pending public health landscape).

[11] Governor Pritzker Announces Next Round of Rental Assistance as Eviction Moratorium Phases Out, Office of Governor of Illinois, (July 14, 2021) (on file with Illinois.gov).

[12] See https://www.illinoisrentalassistance.org.

[13] See https://law.uic.edu/experiential-education/clinics/fairhousing/.

About The Author:

Radhika Aggarwal is a 3L at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law where she works as a student attorney with the UIC Law Fair Housing clinic. She serves as a teaching assistant for the law school’s Appellate Advocacy class and is a research assistant to Shakira Pleasant, Director of the Legal Writing Resource Center and Professor of Law. Radhika also serves an esteemed member of the 2021 Crocker Commercial Real Estate Symposium planning committee.

Radhika graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a B.S. in Business Administration where she worked as a Real Estate Student Assistant with the University’s Capital Finance and Real Estate department. Currently Radhika is interning for the Illinois State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office.

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