$1.3 million in rental assistance available in Rock Island County

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 10:56 PM CST
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ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) -There are still funds available to tenants and landlords through a Rock Island County program aimed at keeping people in their homes, especially as winter rolls in.

The Eviction Diversion Program announced Thursday it still has $1.3 million available in rental assistance.

Ron Lund, Community Service Director of Project NOW, said it’s never a good time to get evicted, especially during the winter.

“In the Midwest, it’s going to be extremely cold again,” Lund said. “Our winters will kill people. So that is where we’re at, we need to keep individuals housed as long as we can because there’s really no other option of where they can go.”

Born out of a partnership with the 14th Judicial Circuit Court, the Rock Island County Bar Association, Project NOW, Prairie State Legal Services and The Salvation Army, the program has helped tenants behind on rent with $1.2 million since February 2021.

Dwight Ford, Executive Director of Project NOW, said the Eviction Diversion Program all starts with mediation between landlords and tenants.

“We know it’s not easy. We know individuals, so to speak, and burn some bridges,” Ford said. “We make no judgment. We’re just trying to hold that contractual agreement together.”

Depending on what terms are set during mediation, tenants may be eligible for financial help.

However, Justin Hunder, a staff attorney at Prairie State Legal Services, said there could be hurdles that take mediation off the table.

“It’s possible for the landlord just to say, ‘No, I don’t want rental assistance, I don’t want any money from the tenant, I just want this tenant out,’” Hunter said. “If, that happens, then what’s going to happen is it’s going to get set for a trial.”

While the program takes care of those facing eviction in the short term, Ford said he hopes it helps the housing market in the long term.

“Those benefits go a long way,” Ford said. “It stabilizes our housing industry here, allowing us to have more affordable rental properties on the market. And we don’t feed a system that is already growing with homelessness or people experiencing homelessness realities.”

Project NOW encourages those needing rental assistance to reach out immediately as, due to demand, it could take 30 days to get an appointment.

Tenants interested in the Eviciton Diversion Program can contact Project NOW at (309) 793-6391 or visit their website for more information.

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