Federal Register Notice: Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19



On September 1st, 37 days after the expiration of the CARES Act moratorium, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an agency order, halting evictions for some renters who meet specific criteria. The CDC issued the agency order citing its authorities provided by 42 U.S.C. 264 and 42 C.F.R. 70.2 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The agency order goes into effect on September 4, 2020 and will run through December 31, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Does this agency order provide funding for rental assistance or otherwise provide rent relief?
A. No. Renters will continue to owe any unpaid rent amounts that have accrued so far and any additional amounts that come due.

Q. Does the agency order prohibit landlords from charging fees or other penalties for non-payment of rent?
A. No. The agency order does not preclude landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties or interest from a tenant for failing to pay their rent, regardless of the financial hardships they may be facing during the pandemic.

Q. Does the agency action mean that all renters are safe from eviction?
A. No. Only certain renters are eligible for the eviction suspension and in order to avail themselves of the eviction suspension protection, they must provide their landlord a legal declaration form, attesting—under penalty of perjury with the threat of prosecution, jail time, or fines for lying, misleading, or omitting important information —that:
• The renter either i) expects to earn less than $99,000 in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), ii) was not required to file taxes in 2019, or iii) received a stimulus check provided by the CARES Act; The renter used their “best efforts” in trying to obtain “all available government assistance for rent or housing”;
• The renter cannot pay the full amount of their rent because of a substantial loss in income, loss of employment or work hours, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
• The renter is still making partial rent payments using their “best effort” to make payments that are as close to the full rental amount as possible; and
• If the renter were evicted, they would likely become homeless or have to “double up” with another household.
Under the agency order, landlords would still be able to file evictions, claiming that their renters did not meet these requirements, placing the burden on renters to prove otherwise. Renters would be subject to
frivolous litigation as landlords try to remove them for their homes even after they have met all the conditions required by the order. It is unclear how courts would handle such cases and how they would determine whether or not renters fully met all of these stipulations. A renter who has been determined to have perjured themselves by a court could face criminal penalties, including substantial fines and even a year in jail.

Q. Does the agency order prevent evictions for other reasons other than on-payment of rent?
A. No. Renters can still be evicted for other reasons, such as violating conditions of their lease (other than timely payment of rent), damaging property, or engaging in criminal activity. Renters with leases that have expired could also be evicted if their landlord refuses to renew the lease.

If you or someone you know is facing eviction or threatened with eviction please reach out to MTO at 773-292-4988 Monday-Friday 1pm to 5pm or email tenants-rights. org. We can assist you in exercising your rights!!

What to Know About Illinois Housing Development Authority Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $3.5 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly allocated $396 million in CRF to Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to fund affordable housing grants, for the benefit of persons impacted by COVID-19, for emergency rental assistance, emergency mortgage assistance and subordinate financing. 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program IHDA developed the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) to support Illinois tenants unable to pay their rent due to a COVID-19-related loss of income. Tenants whose application is approved will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlord to cover missed rent payments beginning March 2020 and prepay payments through December 2020, or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first. 

Application Period Applications for ERA will be accepted August 10th through August 21st. Due to anticipated high volume, the application window may close early. IHDA will use a third-party entity to select a pool of applications to be reviewed for eligibility. Approximately 30,000 tenants are expected to receive funding. Apply at era.idha.org.

To apply for ERA program you will need:

  • access to internet and SMART device (SMART phone, computer, laptop, or tablet). If this is a problem please reach out to us at MTO).
  • an email address (no email, MTO is here to help)
  • 1 form of government issued ID (ex: State ID or DL, Temporary Visitors Driver’s License, Matricula Consular, Foreign Passport- regardless of expiration date, or Resident Identity Card) 
  • 1 document with current address, if different from address on ID (ex: a utility bill, bank statement, credit card or debit statement, social security award letter- no more than 90 days old)
  • your landlord’s email and phone number (so talk to them BEFORE APPLYING)
  • written and valid lease agreement (30 Day lease templates are available for tenants to give to their landlord at MTO. The landlord will have to upload the lease agreement)
  • your household income must be at or below 80% Area Median Income (determine eligibility here or visit era.idha.org
  • you must have an unpaid rent balance that began on or after March 1, 2020 due to lost income related to COVID-19 (the landlord will have to upload a letter or notices of unpaid rent)
  • to have NOT received any other COVID-19 related rental assistance in the household. ERA is 1 application per household
  • to NOT be a renter with a housing subsidy or voucher

Help Applying If you need assistance applying, IHDA has partnered with 62 Community and Outreach Assistance organizations (including MTO) that’s standing by to help you at no cost. You can find a list of these organizations via the Resource button on era.ihda.org. Services are available in English, Spanish, Polish, Italian, French, Romanian, Albanian, Croatian, Serbian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Cantonese, Tagalog, Mandarin and ASL. For additional assistance you may also call IHDA’s call center at (312) 883-2720, or toll-free at (888) 252-1119. For those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, please contact Navicore Solutions for free assistance at (877) 274-4309 (TTY). 

Legal Assistance
If you are at imminent risk of eviction and need legal assistance, a legal aid clinic may be able to assist you. All services are free. You can find a list of legal assistance clinics via the Resource button on era.ihda.org

MTO is 1 of 62 Community Groups working with IDHA to  process applications. If you need assistance with the  application or have questions, if you or someone you know is facing eviction, or you want to know your Renters Rights reach out to us.

  1. Leave a voicemail 773-292-4980 anytime
  2. Call MTO’s Renters’ Right Hotline M-F 1pm-4pm at 773-292-4988. 
  3. Inbox MTO on Facebook 
  4. Email MTO Staff

To Our Valued Tenant Members, Volunteers, Partners, Donors, Board, Staff, and Community: In our work together to create equitable solutions to address inherently unjust housing disparities in Chicago and across the nation, we need to confront the ugly history of structural racism and white supremacy. Our vision of safe, decent and affordable housing is based in the knowledge that in order to thrive, people must have a home and a community in which they feel safe. Unfortunately, members of the Black community do not feel -and are not- safe since their very right to live and breathe is under routine attack. As a social justice organization that educates, organizes and empowers tenants, MTO has to call out the historical and ongoing immoral injustices imposed on Black Americans through state-sanctioned murder and violence.  Our passion for justice compels us to act and join the protests happening in the streets of Chicago. Black Lives Matter is a human rights movement that continues to bring awareness and demand justice for racist violations inflicted upon Black people. MTO stands in solidarity with Chicago’s and the nation’s Black communities to demand justice and an end to police murders. 


John Bartlett

Message from Aisha Truss-Miller, Development Manager 

Courtesy of an unknown Black Lives Matter protester and unknown photographer.

I come to you both brokenhearted and hopeful, exhausted and with loss of appetite. Chicago gun violence, COVID-19, more work via working remotely, televised lynchings, heightened anti-Black policing, profiling, and violence during national uprisings against state-sanctioned violence against Black people- too much BS. Composing this message is very emotional.  I hope this message is artful, strong, bold, honest, and articulate, so the goal of the message is received with open ears and open hearts. Finding the “right” words is a challenge because I am enraged, depressed, afraid, sleep deprived, and anxiously shaking as I type with clenched teeth, boiling blood, and a tear-stained face. 

I’m tired of anti-Black racism and its toll on my spirit; it is an unwanted weight carried by the spirit, mind, and body of Black youth and Black people working from [community] blocks, board rooms, courtrooms, classrooms, and other spaces. We have no choice but to carry this hefty load, that we aren’t responsible for packing. The labor of carrying it and unpacking it over and over across generations is cumbersome and traumatic. Unjustly, there has been no compensation for the genocide, bondage, and torture of my people.  Hundreds of years after our ancestors were kidnapped, raped, bred, and murdered Black Americans are still lawfully terrorized and treated less than human. We carry the load with hunched-backs as society imposes unrealistically high expectations of “properly” challenging anti-Black racism in all its forms. 

Anti-Black racism is inflicted upon us by systems built on racist policies and practices, by communities of color, by our allies, and by the people we share African ancestry with; and, at its root is white supremacy which produces shiny fruit that’s rotten to the core. Anti-Black racism is a world Black people navigate every second and everywhere- our work, our play, and our nightmares. Anti-Black racism determines where we live, how long we can live there, the ability to live and breathe, the ability to be born healthy, eat well, learn well, be treated well, getting paid well, and access for space to heal and be well.  

When it comes to challenging anti-Black racism there are no exemptions, no free-zones, and no space for replies such as, “she’s preaching to the choir”. Right now, there is only space to actively listen, learn more, and self-reflect to further decolonize ideals and traditions that give strength to anti-Black racism.  Right now, there is only space to act and continue the uprising with intentional conversations and actions with your family and community- with our families and communities. Now is the time to seriously re-evaluate the structures, policies, and inclusion of the agencies and institutions we are part of and support, including corporations, non-profits, faith institutions, and government.  We will not accept the legacy of failing to deliver justice to families of Black people killed by police and white supremacists. We will not accept the legacy of failing to deliver justice to Black people in general. We demand justice now.

The uprising is said to have threatened the peace and comfort of so many.  I’ve been searching for peace and comfort my whole life. Searching for it as hard as my parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother did. Her name was Mary Briscoe- a sharecropper from Mississippi who moved to Chicago around 1940 to escape the continued trauma of anti-Black racism, specifically labor exploitation, the Jim Crow south, and lynchings. 80 years later a lynching of a Black man in America is caught on tape, yet again. Yes, a lynching- the act of killing a person accused or suspected of a criminal act, that’s judged and prosecuted publicly and without due process as a form of power and control (and we know that even the due process is unfair and rooted in white supremacy and anti-Blackness). 

Black Americans radically dream and imagine liberation. We organize and advocate for transformation, and work on our own decolonization- and this is expected of us. We share ourselves and our money with little to no acknowledgement- it is expected. We share our time, talents, and intellect voluntarily, for unfair wages, and for others to hijack and label as their own- and it is expected. We have given love and respect in abundance, even when it was not reciprocated- and, it is always expected. We strive to build movements for an equitable and just society where Black Lives Matter, and that everyone will benefit from. You can expect peace when Black Americans get the peace and justice we deserve. The peace and justice and that is long overdue to the Black community.

So I need for you to Say It, Scream It, and Mean It- “Black Lives Matter.

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Atatiana Jefferson. Charleena Lyles. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Laquan McDonald. Rekia Boyd. Trayvon Martin. Aiyana Jones. Eric Garner. Michael Brown Jr. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Terrence Crutcher. Kayla Moore.
Walter Scott. Samuel Dubose. Freddie Gray. And the list goes on, and on, and on. 

Global webinar on tenant struggles in the COVID crisis: Saturday May 9 at 1 pm CST.

Housing Is A Human Right!

Global webinar on tenant struggles in the COVID crisis: Saturday May 9 at 1 pm CST. The National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) sister organization in the UK, Defend Council Housing, is hosting a Global Webinar on Saturday, May 9 at 2 pm EST/ 1pm CST! Panelists from Defend Council Housing; a private housing organizing group in London; a tenants movement group in Barcelona; CASA in the Bronx; and Michael Kane from NAHT will be featured!

Just click on here for Youtube Live and here for Facebook Live Saturday May 9 at 1 pm CST.

Know Your Renters’ Rights during COVID-19 TONIGHT LIVE Q&A, 6pm- TUNE IN!

Please join the Metropolitan Tenants Organization tonight for a “Crash Course on Tenants Rights: What Chicago- area Renters need to know before the 1st of the month.

Tonight!! Thursday, April 30th 6pm CST live-streamed. Be sure to get your FREE TICKETS here with Eventbrite

This workshop will review what tenants need to know for May 1st and we will take questions live. We will be discussing what your rights are if you cannot pay your rent, your rights on evictions, and what to do in case of an illegal lockout, and other critical issues for renters.

Panelists will include MTO’s Eviction Prevention Specialist, Philip DeVon & Affordable Housing Preservation Community Organizer, David Wilson.

Get your FREE TICKETS here with Eventbrite or follow https://www.facebook.com/MTOchicago/ to get the notification when the workshop goes live.

Click HERE to support MTO’s critical work today. Share this link https://bit.ly/39y69ey with friends, family, and community who can make a donation for housing justice on Tuesday, May 5th for a global day of giving. #Giving Tuesday Now.

Be well, and be safe. And see you tonight!

What’s New at MTO? Plus, Ways to Support Chicago Renters with MTO

Dear Friend,

Thank you for being a part of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization community.

While it was a difficult decision, our team decided to cancel the Annual Spring Affair which was scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st at 6:30pm because we care about your safety and well-being.

Although we won’t be gathering in-person, MTO has #5 ways outlined below to help raise $30,000 for our Tenant Stabilization Programs and Services as we work to prevent homelessness and keep low-income families housed. 

We are experiencing high call volume about threats of eviction, illegal lock-outs, unreasonable rent increases, and concerns about the lack of precautions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. We are dedicated to giving Chicago renters the answers and support needed in real-time to stabilize their housing. If you or someone you know are having issues with their landlord or apartment call our Tenants’ Rights Hotline at 773-292-4988. For swift results get your answers and online tools via our app and web page here at Squared Away Chicago.

We believe that with your help, we can lessen the impact of coronavirus on our mission to educate, empower, and organize low-income renters about their rights. Thank you for your support during this challenging time for our organization and our community as a whole.

Sincerely, Team MTO

#5 Ways You Can Continue to Support MTO

#1. Donate Your Ticket(s) OR make a donation here to MTO’s Tenant Stabilization Programs & Services

While the Annual Spring Affair is cancelled and we explore ways to get together virtually, you can choose to donate the cost of your ticket(s) to benefit housing stability for low-income renters in Chicago. You can choose to donate here and or share the link https://bit.ly/39y69ey with friends and colleagues. If you seek a refund contact Aisha-  aisha@tenants-rights.org.

 #2. Make your online purchases through Amazon Smiles.

MTO supports human rights. We stand in solidarity with labor movements for access and justice, like Amazon workers in Chicago who organized and won PTO for all workers. Our constituents who are Amazon shoppers can choose to shop https://smile.amazon.com/ and reply “Metropolitan Tenants Organization’ when asked about your supporting organization. 0.05% of proceeds from your purchase goes to MTO. 

#3. Stay tuned with Chicago Renters & Housing Advocates via MTO Weekly E-Newsletter

Choose to read and share our weekly e-news alerts with stories about what Chicago renters are dealing with during COVID-19 pandemic, housing resources, and updates on our fundraising, housing justices campaigns, and policies. 

#4. Let’s See if Your Employer Will Double Your Donation

Right now, every little bit helps. If you’re able to donate here today, together let’s find out if your company will match your gift. 

#5. Join Us on Facebook Live  https://www.facebook.com/MTOchicago/We can’t gather in person, but we can still gather! Join us in upcoming fun-raising events and discussions on Facebook Live. Follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it!  

Renters Resources during COVID-19

What You Should Know

(Updated on 7/23//20)

Are You Unable to Pay Rent?

  • Talk to your landlord or property manager right now if you anticipate an issue paying rent. Put all your conversations in writing.
  • If you live in private market housing, use the sample letter below to draft a letter to your landlord immediately.
  • If you live in subsidized housing, make sure you request a re-certification immediately. Use the sample letter below to send a request to your housing provider.


*For more info about a specific topic, click any headline below*

How can I get help from HUD or CHA?  

  • HUD is open for business but will NOT accept walk-in visitors at this time. They will provide services via phone/online while they focus efforts on serving people most in need.
    • Online: Click Here
    • Email: Send an email to: IL_Webmanager@hud.gov  (note: underscore between IL_ and Webmanager)
    • By Phone: Call your local office: (312) 353-6236

  • CHA is open for business but will NOT accept walk-in visitors at this time.
    • By Phone: Call your local office: (312) 742-8500
  • No matter who your housing provider is, you should contact them immediately if your income has changed. Send them a letter requesting an income re-certification.

Have a specific question?


More COVID-19 Resources

City of Chicago Corona Virus Response Center

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Utilities
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Housing Action’s comprehensive COVID-19 Resources website

  • State, County and local resource lists
  • Situation updates
  • Information specific to renters who need assistance

Centers for Disease Control website

  • Downloadable factsheets and flyers in English, Spanish and Simplified Chinese
  • Health and hygiene recommendations
  • Travel guidance
  • Situation updates
  • Information specific to schools, workplaces, etc.

Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 website

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Regularly posted updates on new cases in Illinois
  • Updated cautions and advisories
  • Recommendations specific to Illinois

Cook County Department of Public Health website 

  • Information for healthcare providers and communities
  • Detailed health and hygiene recommendations
  • Contact information for suburban Cook County
  • Information for individuals: Clean, Cover and Contain


Illinois Dept. of Public Health’s hotline: 800-889-3931 or email dph.sick@illinois.gov

The City of Chicago hotline: 312-746-4835 or email coronavirus@chicago.gov 

Do you live in Evanston? Check out the virtual training below:

Working Remotely, Our Offices are Closed in response to COVID-19

To our community In order to protect the health and safety of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s staff, volunteers, members and community, our office are closed until March 30th.  More communications from our team is underway. Thank you for patience. 

We encourage everyone to follow CDC and Chicago Department of Public Health guidelines to limit social contact as much as possible.  

MTO’s staff and volunteers will continue to answer our tenants’ crisis line and to provide as much assistance as possible over the phone from our homes.  We promise to remain vigilant during this period of emergency to advocate for the housing rights of everyone.  If you need assistance, please call 773-292-4988 to reach our crisis hotline and leave message. 

Additional Resources on COVID-19
We understand the importance of timely, accurate and helpful communication to visit trusted sources of public health information,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Chicago Department of Health
World Health Organization

The American Public Health Association has also released COVID-19 fact sheetsin EnglishSpanish and Chinese.

Save-the Date for Shining Stars for Fair Housing Fundraiser 4.21.2020

We are excited to announce MTO’s Annual Spring Affair: Shining Stars for Fair Housing will be Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 6:30pm-8:30pm doors open at (6:00pm), at Masada Restaurant located at 2206 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647. The event will celebrate trailblazers and budding stars working to advance fair housing in and beyond Chicago

Buy 1 Tix & Gift 1 Tix $130 (to tenant leaders, volunteers, and staff)

General Admission Tickets $75

MTO members $65

Do you believe housing is human right? Does your job, group, place of worship, or business seek to support community? If so, click here now and consider becoming a sponsor.

Aisha Truss-Miller, at 773-292-4980 ext. 236 or email aisha@tenants-rights.org

Become a Sponsor of Shining Stars for Fair Housing

We are excited to announce MTO’s Annual Spring Affair: Shining Stars for Fair Housing will be Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 6:30pm-8:30pm doors open at (6:00pm), at Masada Restaurant located at 2206 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647.

Shining Stars supports trailblazers and emerging leaders working to advance fair housing in Chicago, by bringing together organizers, advocates, and contributors for a night of celebration.   We hope we can count on your support to make 2020’s Annual Spring Affair one of our best events yet!

2020 Sponsor Opportunities:

Click here to learn more and become a PLATINUM SPONSOR $5,000

Click here to learn more and become a GOLD SPONSOR $2,500

Click here to learn more and become a SILVER SPONSOR $1,000

Click here to learn more and become a BRONZE SPONSOR $500

For more information contact Aisha Truss-Miller, aisha@tenants-rights.org or call (773) 292-4980 ext. 236


Buy 1 Tix & Gift 1 Tix $130

General Admission $75 MTO Members $65.00

Tickets go on-sale Tues. 2/4/2020