CHAMPAIGN, Ill (WCIA)– Evictions can be ordered again in Illinois come September 1 for any reason.

For many renters, that means now is the time to prepare. Plans need to be made to get rental assistance and possibly find a new place to live, but it’s not necessarily a simple process.

“Come September 1st there will be lots of filings. Whether it’s a surge, a flood, nobody really knows,” shared John Roska, an attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Aid.

Normally we’d give you a statistic laying out how many renters are at risk of eviction. But, there isn’t one. That appears to be the consensus after consulting several people, including lawyers, emergency rent managers, and an eviction judge.

We may get an idea after the first of August, the date the Illinois Supreme Court set for landlords to be able to start filing cases against their tenants with the courts.

We were able to clear up how those at risk can prepare and where they can turn for financial assistance.

Roska works with tenants on a daily basis at the non-profit, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid. He said, theoretically, following the financial assistance doled out in 2020, people should not be behind.

However, things generally work differently in practice.

“One of the big problems was dealing with the bureaucracies,” Roska explained.

“The unemployment, the rent assistance programs were kind of making it up as they go, trying to get the money out. And they did a good job, but a lot of people didn’t connect the way they should have.”

In addition, to complete the application for federal assistance, whether that’s directly from the Illinois Rental Payment Program or a more local program, a landlord has to be a part of the process.

“There are all sorts of glitches that can hold the process up or get it denied, and some landlords just are not cooperating. They don’t want the money,” Roska said, adding, some landlords just want to move on.

He said some programs do allow renters to take the assistance and move to a new place.

Documents needed to apply for the Illinois Rental Payment program, managed by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

We also sat down with the two people who most directly deal with rental assistance in Cunningham Township in Urbana.

“You have a month and you better move quickly,” added Township Supervisor Danielle Chynoweth.

“…There’s no shame in asking for help.”

Cunningham Township Case Manager Kyle Patterson said millions of dollars are sitting around waiting to help out. The problem: The window for applying directly to the state program closed on July 18.

In Champaign County, in particular, there are other options through the Regional Planning Commission.

Chynoweth said CCRPC plans to continue processing applications for emergency rental assistance until all funds are gone.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced another round of rental assistance in a press release on July 14. The next round is expected sometime in the fall.

Press release from Gov. Pritzker’s office on July 14.

For now, Chynoweth advised: “For folks in Champaign County, go to RPC (Regional Planning Commission). For folks outside of Champaign County, watch the state website to find out when the next filing is open.”

“In the meantime, get your documentation together now,” she added.

Further, no one has to move out until the court tells them to, no matter what the notice on the door might say.

“Until a judge has signed an eviction order, the tenant can stay where they are,” Roska clarified.

“…And the only person that can physically put them out is a sheriff’s deputy,” Patterson added.

These changes impact everyone, even if you’re not at risk of eviction. If those in need don’t get help, communities could have more people who are homeless.

One more gray area:

The order that set Sept. 1 as the date the moratorium lifts came down from the Illinois Supreme Court on July 15. It said there will no longer be eviction protection for “covered persons”, or renters who have tried but were unable to make payments because of a pandemic-related hardship.

Gov. Pritzker’s existing Executive Order will expire June 25, and on July 14, the governor said he will be issuing a new executive order this Friday that essentially mimics the Supreme Court’s.

Roska said, depending on interpretation, the moratorium could be perceived to expire over the weekend, regardless of the Supreme Court order. It’s unclear if Gov. Pritzker still plans to issue a new Executive Order at this time.