What a year – So much damage done
It was one year ago tomorrow on March 20, 2021 that, buy executive order, Governor J.B. Pritzker changed the lives of Illinois housing providers by enacting a moratorium on residential evictions. Since then, like clockwork, the Governor has extended the prohibition 30 days at a time, this last time up until April 2, 2021. And while tenants’ rights advocates warn of an impending crisis on April 5, 2021 when the moratorium expires, I have faith that Governor Pritzker will not go down in history as the Governor who opened evictions back up on the day after Easter Sunday. Rest assured, he is very likely to extend the moratorium.
And when he does, he’s likely to say that “help is on the way”. That help might be in the form of House Bill 2877 known as the Illinois Federal Emergency Assistance Act which just passed the Illinois House of Representatives which sets up the parameters for the state to dole out the housing-related proceeds of Illinois’ share of the 1.9 Trillion Dollar Federal Covid Stimulus Package. Will the provisions of this act provide landlords and tenants with the rent relief they need after one full year of a moratorium? I really don’t know. I hope it does. I have my doubts. What I do know is that there are landlords who have cases that have been pending since before the pandemic and they are unlikely to see any relief. In this past year, the Governor and his accomplices in the legislature stole many livelihoods (and property rights) in the name of “housing is health care”. Most landlords gave grace over the last year. Most tenants did their best to pay. Unfortunately, a small number of the very worst tenants have taken advantage and done serious harm.
And what kind of gift is the state of Illinois proposing along with the Federal Emergency Assistance Act to celebrate one year without evictions? The law includes a section allowing for the sealing of most eviction records for the Covid period. One more way the very worst of the worst will skate. Landlords will be unable to find out which tenants acted honorably and which tenants did not. I would like to think that the Governor would find ways to (1) encourage the Circuit Court to send a certified copy of an eviction order in less than a few weeks; (2) find exceptions for cases that were in force before the moratorium even began; and (3) allow landlords to evict the worst of the worst, but over and over again, he and the Illinois legislature have shown that they believe landlords need to bear the burden of housing during this pandemic. Their policies suggest that they just don’t care for property owners or their plight.