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Cook County launches $20 million mortgage assistance program: ‘We will feel the effects of COVID-19 for years to come’

Cook County launches $20 million mortgage assistance
program: ‘We will feel the effects of COVID-19 for years to
come’ 1

Right after the 2008 housing crash and economic downturn, Alma Anaya said her family lost their home.

The Democratic Cook County commissioner drew on that experience Thursday as she and other County Board members announced a $20 million mortgage assistance program designed to help keep roofs over the heads of cash-strapped suburban residents reeling from the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our home that was full of memories — childhood memories and others — and I know the devastation that can cause to working families when they lose their homes,” Anaya said. “They lose the place where they’re used to going to after school or after work. So, it’s extremely important that we do something about that before we get to the insecurity that will be happening for a lot of our families. It is extremely important that we’re being proactive about it.”

The county’s COVID-19 recovery mortgage assistance program is funded by money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The mortgage payment program follows a similar $20 million suburban renters assistance program set up in August to help with rent payments.

Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya in December. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The new program will pay up to three months of overdue — or future — mortgage payments for income eligible households, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

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“As our recovery efforts evolve, we must take stock of the strides we’re making to provide essential services to our residents,” Preckwinkle said. “As you know, COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities Black and Brown communities face in terms of disinvestment. … We know that recovery will not happen overnight. We will feel the effects of COVID-19 for years to come and, unfortunately, the pandemic remains far from over.”

To be eligible for the program suburban county residents must have a COVID-19 related financial hardship — such as losing a job, facing furlough or having work hours reduced — an income at or below $127,400 before and after that financial hardship; have missed a mortgage payment since March 27 and can’t have accepted other CARES Act assistance.

The program is expected to assist between 2,500 and 3,000 homeowners with payments going directly to mortgage servicers up to a total of $10,000. The application period opens on the county’s site Friday and will close Oct. 16.

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