Area residents who are at risk of eviction or homelessness are encouraged to apply for emergency rental assistance through SAL Community Services. Applications for back rent and advance rent are open to qualified residents of Henry, Mercer or Rock Island Counties until December 31.
“Our focus is on stability,” said Loredia Nunn-Dixon, the director of SAL’s Open Door Crisis Assistance program. “When your housing is stable, you can stay focused on everything else, whether that’s education or work or taking care of your health. And if we can keep people where they’re at, that means landlords won’t go without tenants. This program is a win-win for us all.”
The need for rental assistance became evident early on during the COVID-19 pandemic at SAL, when many people lost income. An earlier rental assistance project at the organization was focused on immigrants and refugees, a population disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic. The current funding is open to anyone in the community.
“This is what we do at SAL: we navigate services for individuals who are in crisis or in need,” said Nunn-Dixon. “Nine times out of 10, we can refer you somewhere, except when the services you need don’t exist anywhere else. That’s why having these dollars for rental assistance is so important for us.”
To receive assistance, residents must have qualified for unemployment benefits or lost household income, incurred higher costs, or experienced other financial hardships directly or indirectly due to COVID-19 to receive assistance. They must also be able to demonstrate a risk of homelessness or eviction because of their inability to pay rent. Finally, their household income must be at or below 80% of the area median income, with priority given to households with income at or below 50% of the median. Applicants must provide proof of income, a lease and other documentation. There is no need to provide proof of immigration status.
Those who qualify may be able to receive up to 15 months of back rent and an additional three months of advance rent. If they have found a new apartment to rent after previously experiencing homelessness, they may be eligible for funds to cover a deposit and advance rent. Assistance with utilities is also available.
“It’s hard out here—we’re seeing it,” said Nunn-Dixon. “After December, there’s still going to be a need. We want our legislators, our corporations, and our funders to know that their support is critical. We want our community members to know that they matter.”