The COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted almost every state in the U.S., including Illinois. With more than 45,800 coronavirus cases and 750,000 unemployment claims, Illinois has taken several measures to protect its individuals and small business owners. The state currently provides several financial relief programs to help support businesses and individuals hardest hit by the pandemic, and Chicago and other cities have also created programs and initiatives to combat the economic downturn.
Illinois residents also have access to coronavirus crisis government help at the federal level. If you’d like to protect your finances during turbulent times, you should consider finding a financial advisor who suits your needs.
Illinois Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Besides the provisions passed with the coronavirus stimulus package, Illinois hasn’t made many expansions to its unemployment insurance rules. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act mandates that states provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, so eligible Illinois workers could receive a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits.
Although the federal act supports self-employed workers, such as gig economy workers and independent contractors, these workers are being told not to apply until further notice. You can find more information on Illinois’ state benefits here.
Low-income residents may qualify for the Illinois Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). This program provides monthly benefits to help its recipients purchase food and nutritional items. You can find more program information here.
Illinois also has an Emergency Food program that provides funding to food banks so that they can distribute them to soup kitchens, pantries and homeless shelters.
Arts for Illinois Relief Fund
Though temporarily suspended, this fund provides direct relief to Illinois artists and organizations in creative industries impacted by coronavirus. Under the program, eligible applicants may qualify for one-time grants of $1,500. However, the grants are based on a lottery system.
Eligible applicants include all artists and artisans (including stage and production members and part-time cultural workers) and arts organizations in all disciplines, according to the program’s website. Arts Alliance Illinois partners with 3Arts and Arts Works Fund to administer the fund.
Illinois Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
Created as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund offers small business low-interest loans of up to $50,000. But businesses in Chicago don’t qualify. Only small businesses outside of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in 2019 revenue qualify, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. State authorities require that the loans be used for working capital and that at least 50% of the loan’s proceeds be applied to payroll or other eligible compensation.
The $60 million fund offers emergency loans with a five-year term and 3% annual interest rate. Eligible applicants can defer payments for six months or repay early without penalty. But if recipients choose to put off payments for six months, they’ll be responsible for fixed principle and interest payments after the deferral period. See how to apply here.
Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program
The Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program is a $20 million fund providing $25,000 loans to small businesses with 50 employees or less. The program was specifically established to aid small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19, and it offers 60 days of working capital to eligible applicants.
The funds may be used for private for-profit small retail and service businesses, as well as businesses deemed “non-essential” by Governor JB Pritzker’s executive order, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund
This fund allocates $100 million to small businesses and non-profits whose operations have been impacted by COVID-19 in the Chicago area. Eligible businesses will receive low-interest loans of up to $50,000 with an annual interest rate of 1%. The fixed annual interest rate will be 1% for the first 18 months of the loan, but after 18 months, the rate will increase to 5.75% for the loan’s duration.
Loan applications will be administered through Accion Serving Illinois and Indiana, the Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) and other lenders. Applications are currently closed, but you can find more information on eligibility requirements and application details here.
Hospitality Emergency Grant Program
Applications for the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program are now closed, but the program dedicated $14 million toward helping small hospitality businesses. The grant contributed up to $25,000 to eligible restaurants and bars and up to $50,000 for eligible hotels.
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
As a national response to the coronavirus crisis, Americans can now access coronavirus relief for rent and mortgage payments, a tax deadline extension, student loans relief and other forms of relief. One of the most significant provisions within the recently passed economic stimulus package are stimulus checks. The federal program offers these direct payments to individuals within certain income thresholds, and you can receive these even if you haven’t been impacted by COVID-19. For instance, individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less qualify for a $1,200 check. Married couples qualify for a maximum of $2,400, plus an additional $500 per dependent. And, like individuals, heads of household can earn a $1,200 check. However, the check amounts phase out at $5 for every $100 the filer (s) makes over the income threshold up to the income cut-off amounts. This means that individuals will receive nothing if they make more than $99,000. For married couples and heads of household, the maximum income cut-offs are $198,000 and $136,500.
As the number of jobless claims increases throughout the U.S., individuals should also consider the enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefits within the CARES Act. The federal unemployment relief allows 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, and it offers three main programs: Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
If needed, Americans can also take advantage of paid coronavirus sick leave and family benefits. The government provides these for those who are either diagnosed with COVID-19, or caring for a dependent or household member who has been impacted by the virus.
See how Illinois stacks up by checking out Coronavirus Relief Programs by State
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
Certain small businesses may qualify for relief under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)— a $310 billion fund that offers loans of up to $10 million for eligible small businesses. The program applies to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and eligible applicants can borrow 2.5 times the business’ average monthly payroll costs (excluding salaries of $100,000 or more). If you’re interested in applying, you can do so through a PPP loan lender.
Another expansive option available to coronavirus-impacted small businesses are Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). These Small Business Administration (SBA) loans offer eligible businesses an emergency cash advance of $10,000, with loans of up to $2 million for businesses and non-profits. You can apply here.
The Bottom Line
Illinois provides a variety of financial programs for small businesses, but it also offers local and state-wide forms of relief for coronavirus-affected individuals. However, it’s still useful to pay attention to the federal relief programs, just in case the virus adversely affects you or your business.
Tips for Managing Your Finances During the Coronavirus Crisis
- A financial advisor can help you protect your finances against the unexpected. If you’re struggling to find a suitable professional in your area, SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with up to three local advisors close to you.
- If you’re looking for ways to cut costs and save more during the coronavirus crisis, budgeting is great place to begin. Our free budget calculator can help you get started.
- If you’re a small business owner in Illinois, our PPP calculator can help you determine how much your company will be eligible to receive.
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