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Illinois Gov. announces $900 million in community, business support

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CHICAGO — On Wednesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a package of programs to support communities and businesses impacted by the pandemic and uprising.

According to a news release, the package includes more than $900 million across more than ten programs and four state agencies to help working families and small businesses who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19’s economic impacts.

“We are in a moment that requires a historic effort to mitigate this virus’s devastating effects on the health and livelihoods of the residents of this state,” said Pritzker. “We must do so in a way that prioritizes those who were hurting long before we’d ever heard of COVID-19 – to be there for people who are in need, people who are falling through the cracks, people who never expected themselves to need a helping hand from anyone else – but now they do.”

The governor’s office said that the new package of grant programs operate with equity requirements, ensuring that disproportionately impacted areas receive their fair share of support.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) is launching a $150 million program with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) is expected to reach approximately 30,000 renters who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The program will launch in August 2020 and run through the end of the year. Pritzker will extend the ongoing residential eviction ban through July 31 to provide a smooth transition into the assistance program. Renters who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be prioritized in the grants process.

IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000 to provide support with mortgage payments. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMA) is expected to assist approximately 10,000 eligible homeowners who are unable to pay their mortgage. The program is also expected to launch in August 2020 and provide assistance through the end of the year. It will also give homeowners who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic priority in the grants process.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will launch the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July. The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 of which has been set aside for childcare providers, and is funded by the CARES Act.
 
In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in DIAs. Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount, since March and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure. Businesses must also have been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020. An emphasis will also be placed on those businesses that are located in areas that have experienced recent property damage due to civil unrest, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.

DCEO will make the application for BIG available on Monday, June 22.

The DCEO’s new economic recovery program will provide also $25 million to support Illinois businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest during the recent protests and demonstrations on or after May 25. The program will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work.

The program will prioritize small businesses, women and minority-owned businesses, underinsured or uninsured businesses, businesses that have a high community impact – such as grocery stores – and businesses in communities that have experienced historic disinvestment.

The Rebuild Distressed Communities NOFO will solicit applications from regional and local organizations that will perform outreach, coordinate local qualified vendors, and provide funds to cover the cost of repairs and building improvements for businesses in their region. The program also includes provisions to ensure BEP-certified contractors, including minority- and women-owned businesses, are the first in line to do the repair work.

DCEO will invite applications for the Distressed Capital Program with a NOFO made available on Monday, June 22.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will provide $32.5 million in an effort to immediately mitigate poverty in Illinois and respond to the needs of hard-hit communities by COVID-19 and by the civil unrest. The program will support more than 73,000 people across the state by building upon contracts and services to target communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The actions will begin in June and extend through the summer.

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