Toni Preckwinkle announcing the grant program this morning.

Cook County officials today launched a $20 million mortgage assistance program to help suburban residents experiencing financial insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the program pays one to three months of overdue or future mortgage payments for income-eligible households.

The program is expected to assist between 2,500 and 3,000 homeowners. Payments will be made directly to mortgage servicers up to a total of $10,000.

“The pandemic is far from over. This mortgage assistance program will provide much-needed relief to families in suburban Cook County impacted by COVID-19,” said County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We must do whatever it takes to help people stay in their homes and keep their families safe. This plan will offer protection to homeowners and empower them to keep making mortgage payments.”

The program complements an Emergency Rental Assistance Program, launched in August. Under that program, $20 million in rental assistance is being distributed to income-eligible renters throughout suburban Cook County.

The mortgage funding will be available to households with incomes under $127,400, a number derived from 140% of area median income in the Chicago metropolitan area for a family of four, with 25% of the funding reserved for families whose incomes are under 80% of the AMI.

An additional 25% will be targeted at what is called Disparately Impacted Areas. These areas, designated by the State of Illinois, help to direct funding to areas that have both a high COVID-19 case count and a high level of economic insecurity.

Residents can review their eligibility and apply for mortgage assistance at The application period opens Friday and will close on Oct. 16.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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