Best of Springfield

BEST USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS

Rental assistance

The pandemic has wreaked all sorts of havoc, especially for those already experiencing tenuous living conditions. Eviction moratoriums have bought time for those who have lost jobs or otherwise face economic hardship and can't pay rent. The governor has extended the moratorium through at least mid-November. Nationally, the Trump administration moved to ban evictions for many renters through the end of the year. The order was put through by the Centers for Disease Control as a way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in transient, homeless populations.

But, without the help of government funds, renters will still owe money, and landlords still want to collect to make their own ends meet. An eviction moratorium alone is unlikely to mitigate a housing crisis.

Meanwhile, in Springfield, the city had asked the community for suggestions on the best way to use funds provided by a $799,000 Community Development Block Grant meant for COVID-19 relief. A need was expressed for help with rent payments and the city ultimately earmarked $400,000 of the overall grant for rental assistance. Money goes directly to the landlord. As of Oct. 20, there was more than $245,000 still available through the Springfield rental assistance program, which is a partnership between the city and the Springfield Urban League, according to a spokesperson for the city.

To qualify, the property must be within corporate limits in Springfield, the tenant must meet income guidelines, ($42,800 or less for a single person), the tenant must prove a loss of income due to COVID-19 and the landlord must agree to participate in the program, which offers a maximum of $1,000 per tenant. Tenants who need assistance can call the Springfield Urban League at 217-789-0830 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. They should specify that they are seeking assistance for rent within the city of Springfield.

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