Grant Guidelines

Background
Purposes
Eligibility
Limitations
Timeline for Application & Review
Grant Disbursement
IL Grant Funds Recovery Act
General Evaluation Criteria
Application and Reporting Requirements
For More Information


IL Emergency Homeowner Assistance Funds (HAF) Program

Background

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1999, pursuant to the Illinois Equal Justice Act (30 ILCS 765/1 et. seq.).  The IEJF supports initiatives to increase Illinois residents’ access to the legal system.  The IEJF provides grants to nonprofit legal aid providers through three state appropriations housed in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office as well as COVID-19-related eviction funding through the IL Department of Human Services.

This current round of funding has been provided by federal Homeowner Assistance Funds (HAF) via the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). IEJF has been charged with distributing the grant funding to civil legal aid and mediation organizations to assist Illinois homeowners in danger of losing their home due to the financial hardship of the pandemic. The primary focus of the funding is downstate homeowners, though funding Cook County programs will be considered. Any funding directed toward Cook County is subject to availability and will complement and coordinate with the Cook County Legal Aid for Housing & Debt (CCLAHD) Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program.

Funding is provided by the State of Illinois to support legal and mediation services for foreclosure prevention from January 21, 2022 to July 15, 2023. The grant budget is approximately $2,1800,000.

Identified service gaps include access for undocumented individuals downstate and higher income individuals.  Priority will be given to proposals to serve these populations.

Purposes

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation will make grants in the following two categories:

Eligibility

Organizations are eligible to apply for a grant from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation if they:

  • Are certified and in compliance with the Illinois Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) requirements;
  • Have a demonstrated track record in providing legal assistance or mediation services to individuals impacted by foreclosure;
  • Are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Provide services to Illinois residents set forth in the “Purposes” section.  To determine if a particular project qualifies for a grant, see the specific guidelines for the categories noted above.
  • Provide services to low-income people free of charge. Low-income is defined as a household income at or below 100% Statewide Area Median Income (AMI). Services for people with incomes of up to 150% statewide AMI can be funded through this program, though low-income people are the primary focus.

Limitations

  • Funds provided by the State of Illinois, including funds distributed by the IEJF, may not be spent on a sectarian purpose.
  • Said funds may not be used for the purpose of lobbying; encouraging political activities, labor or anti-labor activities, boycotts, picketing, strikes or demonstrations; or investigative or legal compliance activities related to a pending dispute.
  • No more than 10% of grants awarded by the IEJF can be used for indirect costs unless the applicant has a higher state/federal negotiated reimbursement rate.  Failure to abide by this may jeopardize future funding from the IEJF.

Timeline for Application & Review

The grant period will be January 21, 2022 – July 15, 2023, and the application and review process will follow this schedule:

01/26/2022 Applications available at www.iejf.org.
02/07/2022 Completed applications & proposals due
02/10 – 02/11/22 Virtual site visits
03/03/2022 Board decisions announced

Grant Disbursement

Grant payments will be disbursed quarterly following receipt of program service and financial reports for actual costs incurred during that preceding quarter. Payments are dependent on receipt of funds from the State of Illinois. Grantees may request advance payments for implementation of the Illinois Emergency HAF Program. The process and approval for advance funds will be determined by IEJF. Subsequent payments will be based on quarterly financial invoices to reconcile payments previously advanced.

IL Grant Funds Recovery Act

Please note these funds are subject to the IL Grant Funds Recovery Act. Please familiarize yourself before submitting an application.

General Evaluation Criteria

Grant requests will be evaluated on the factors listed below and the criteria listed under each funding category.

  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services and location of applicant’s service-delivery to ensure geographical reach throughout the State of Illinois.
  • Applicant’s experience in providing said service, as indicated by the experience levels and qualifications of key staff and the numbers of persons served in prior years.
  • Commitment to services for vulnerable and underserved populations.
  • Efficient service delivery which takes into consideration factors such as the relative costs of the applicant’s services; cooperation and coordination with other entities to avoid duplication of effort; the use of volunteers; and the use of technology to increase access to services and to maximize productivity.
  • Sound organizational management, including indices such as the fiscal health of the sponsoring organization; realistic income and expense budgets for the project; evidence of active involvement and oversight by a qualified advisory board and/or board of directors; and demonstrated technical efficiency and protection of client data.
  • Use of evaluative and measurement techniques that measure success, effectiveness, and efficiency as it relates to organizational mission, learning, and improvement are encouraged.
  • Use of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) objectives are encouraged.
  • Service projections should be proposed with the initial application and progress toward those goals will be reported on quarterly.

The IEJF is committed to equitable salaries for legal aid providers and encourages applicants to develop a reasonable pay scale, training and support program for its personnel to ensure that client services are not interrupted by unplanned staff turnover.

Application and Reporting Requirements

Applications must be submitted electronically on/by February 7, 2022.

Application procedures and forms will be available by January 26, 2022 at www.iejf.org under the COVID Housing Grants tab.  From there, you can login to the grant portal.  The “Apply” button on the top left will allow you to select your funding category and apply.

Grant reports must be submitted via the online portal as well.

All grantees must submit quarterly program service reports and financial invoices by the following dates for services provided and actual costs incurred in the preceding quarter. UPDATED May 12 2022. Dates have changed due to new guidance from IHDA.

  • April 8, 2022 (for Jan 21 – March 31 2022 services and expenditures)
  • July 8, 2022 (for April – June 2022 services and expenditures)
  • October 7, 2022 (for July – September 2022 services and expenditures)
  • January 9, 2023 (for October – December 2022 services and expenditures)
  • April 7, 2023 (for January – March 2023 services and expenditures)
  • August 11, 2023 (for April – July 15, 2023 services and expenditures)

A detailed final report (including outcomes and demographic information) will be due on or by August 18, 2023Please note that this date is subject to change if guidance from the US Treasury or IHDA changes.

Failure to submit reports in a timely manner may jeopardize distribution of grant funds, as well as future IEJF funding.

Applicants should note that IHDA requires the collection and quarterly reporting of the following data points (in the aggregate):

  • Demographic data including the number of people served, the zip code and county of residence, age, gender, ethnicity, race and language spoken.
  • The number of people completing an IHDA ILHAF mortgage assistance application.
  • The number of people directed to apply for legal aid from the IHDA webinar.
  • The total number of homeowners that applied for legal aid that fall outside the 150% statewide AMI limit.

Applicants should note that the US Treasury requires the collection and quarterly reporting of the following data points (in the aggregate):

  • The number of unique homeowners that received assistance from the program.
  • The number of unique homeowners at or below 100% statewide Area Median Income (AMI).
  • The number of unique homeowners classified as “Socially Disadvantaged Individuals” (SDI) who received assistance any kind. A homeowner is considered a socially disadvantaged individual if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • The homeowner or a member of their household has limited English proficiency.
    • The homeowner is Hispanic/Latinx.
    • The homeowner is:
      • American Indian or Alaskan Native
      • Asian
      • Black or African American
      • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
      • The homeowner lives in one of the following zip codes:
60085 60419 60617 60639 60827
60090 60426 60619 60641 60901
60099 60435 60620 60643 61101
60101 60438 60621 60644 61103
60110 60466 60623 60645 61109
60120 60473 60624 60649 61604
60133 60478 60626 60651 61832
60153 60505 60628 60652
60402 60506 60629 60653
60406 60609 60632 60659
60409 60612 60636 60707
60411 60616 60637 60804
  • The number of delinquencies resolved through legal services.
  • The number of delinquencies resolved through mediation.
  • The number of non-delinquent homeowners that are receiving legal services under the program.
  • The number of non-delinquent homeowners that are receiving mediation services under the program.
  • The amount of HAF assistance (obligated or expended) used for administrative expenses.
  • Homeowner retention success tracked and reported at least six months after receiving any type of assistance.

For More Information

For more information about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation’s grant guidelines and procedures, contact Tyrina Newkirk, Program Officer at tnewkirk@iejf.org

To learn more about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, click here.

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Civil Legal Assistance Grants

Purpose

The IEJF makes grants to provide legal assistance to low-income Illinois homeowners in danger of losing their home who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Priority Areas

The IEJF IL Emergency HAF Program grants will focus on the following two priority area:

  • Foreclosure Legal Services: This includes legal advice, brief services and full representation in foreclosure and homeownership matters
  • Online Legal Information and Triage Services. These services enable Illinois residents to receive online legal information, triage, and referral services for foreclosure and homeownership matters, mediation and available mortgage assistance.

Use of Grant Funds

Grants will be made to support staff or contract positions at eligible legal services providers, including attorneys, paralegals, program staff, and/or pro bono coordinators. Grant funds can be used to pay for salaries, benefits, and other allowable costs directly related to supporting the positions.  Indirect costs are limited to no more than 10% unless the organization has a higher negotiated rate. The applicant must demonstrate how the proposed staff or contract positions will help the organization provide efficient and effective legal assistance to persons in one or both of the priority areas.

Eligibility

In the Civil Legal Assistance category, the IEJF will only consider applications from Illinois-based not-for-profit organizations that:

  • Serve persons in one or both of the two priority areas listed above (Foreclosure Legal Services and Online Legal Information and Triage Services).
  • For foreclosure legal services, employ licensed attorneys to provide legal services, who can be supplemented by contract attorneys, law students or other professionals acting under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

Evaluation Criteria

Grant applications in the Civil Legal Assistance category will be evaluated based on (in addition to criteria listed in Overview Section):

  • Organizational capacity and experience in providing legal services in foreclosure and homeownership cases.
  • Organizational experience in facilitating referrals to non-legal organizations to address the legal crisis, such as housing or financial counselors, other social service providers, and mortgage assistance programs.
  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected in the number of eligible clients in the applicant’s service area; current unmet demand; and requests for assistance from other community agencies serving the target populations.

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Mediation Services

Purpose

The IEJF makes grants to provide mediation services to Illinois residents, as an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional legal processes. The IEJF will support selected mediation programs whose purpose is to improve access to just resolutions of disputes for those who might not otherwise have such access.

Grants to support mediation services will be made to dispute resolution centers, which are not-for-profit organizations that offer free mediation services to the public that are provided by trained volunteers.

For the purposes of these guidelines, mediation is defined as a voluntary process in which an impartial mediator actively assists disputants in identifying and clarifying issues of concern and in designing and agreeing to solutions for those issues.   A mediator is defined as a person who has received at least 30 hours of training in the areas of negotiation, nonverbal communication, agreement writing, neutrality and ethics.

Use of Grant Funds

In the Mediation Services category, the IEJF will consider support for:

  • New Dispute Resolution Centers:  To increase the availability of mediation services throughout Illinois, the IEJF will consider applications for “start-up” grants to new dispute resolution centers – including those that have begun operation and those that will begin offering services during the grant period – that can demonstrate the ability to provide mediation services in accordance with these guidelines.
  • Existing Dispute Resolution Centers:  The IEJF will consider applications for operating support from existing dispute resolution centers to expand services in response to the eviction crisis.  These operating expenses include staff salaries and benefits, as well as other costs directly related to providing mediation services.
  • Mediator Training:  The IEJF will consider applications for operating support from existing dispute resolution centers aiming to increase the State’s capacity to provide mediation services through training of new mediators or foreclosure training for existing mediators.

Eligibility

In the Mediation Services category, the IEJF will only consider applications from Illinois-based not-for-profit organizations that:

  • Provide free mediation services to disputants.
  • Provide mediation services using mediators who have received at least 30 hours of training as mediators.
  • Provide training for mediation services to increase the State’s capacity.
  • Have operating procedures in place that demonstrate compliance with Section 5 of the Illinois Not-for-Profit Dispute Resolution Center Act (710 ILCS 20/5), including:
    • Operating an ongoing peer review program for mediators;
    • Scheduling mediations within 30 days of the commencement of a case;
    • Maintaining records on mediated cases;
    • Advising parties of the objectives of mediation, their roles and the mediator’s role;
    • Considering disputes resolved when there is a written agreement.

Evaluation Criteria

Grant applications in the Mediation Services category will be evaluated based on:

  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected in the actual or anticipated demand for mediation services; the support of actual or potential referral sources, such as judges, legal services providers, social service agencies, and local government officials; and the extent to which mediation services are otherwise available in the program’s service area.
  • Applicant’s ability to provide mediation services, as indicated by the experience levels and qualifications of key staff; the number of trained mediators and/or the ability to attract new mediators; the numbers of mediations held in prior years; the ability to provide the required training to potential volunteers.
  • Efficient delivery of mediation services, which takes into consideration factors such as the methods for receiving case referrals; the number of cases referred to mediation compared to the number of cases actually mediated; and the relative costs of the applicant’s services.

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