Improved rent relief
The City announced a third, and possibly final, round of rent relief since the beginning of the pandemic. With $1.9 billion in federal relief expected to be allocated to Chicago, $80 million of those funds will “quadruple” the amount of housing aid available, said Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara, whose department worked with Mayor Lori Lightfoot to hold two rent lotteries in the spring and summer of 2020, which helped about 12,000 households in the City, but left out tens of thousands of applicants in need. This time, tenants or landlords, including immigrants, could qualify for up to fifteen months of rent assistance, twelve of which could be used for rent that is past due, and three of which could go toward future payments, as well as utilities. Renters can fill out an application at chicago.gov/renthelp until June 8 at 11:59 p.m. and will need their landlord’s contact information and their lease or proof of rent. Separately, the Illinois Housing Development Authority is offering grants of up to $25,000. Landlords must fill out the application first at ilrpp.ihda.org, then tenants will be asked to submit their information before June 7.
Lightfoot’s weak plan for civilian oversight of the police
Mayor Lightfoot unveiled her proposal for civilian oversight of police that, if adopted by the City Council, would create a seven-member commission that could recommend candidates for police superintendent and other positions, review and approve CPD policy changes, and submit budget recommendations. But it would have little real power, and control of the police would remain in the mayor’s office. As a candidate, Lightfoot pledged to implement the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability (GAPA) proposal for civilian oversight of the police, but has broken that promise. A former CPD officer who chairs the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward), supports Lightfoot’s proposal and said he would hold a vote on it in June. The People’s Ordinance, which has the support of every major caucus in City Council, including the Black Caucus, Latinx Caucus, and Progressive Caucus, would provide more robust and independent community oversight of the police than Lightfoot’s proposal.
Monthly checks for families with children
The IRS will begin sending advance payments of child tax refunds to eligible working-class families who have filed their taxes this year and meet the income requirements, as outlined in the American Rescue Plan pandemic-related package. From July until December of this year, households with kids will receive direct deposits of $300 a month per child under five years old, and $250 for each child between six and seventeen years old, with a potential extension pending legislation. Heads of household have the ability to opt-out and instead receive the bolstered Child Tax Credit refund in one payment after filing their taxes in 2022.