Illinois Offers New Web Site for Renters

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For Illinois residents who are looking to rent for the first time, or who are planning on moving into a new rented residence soon, a group of state agencies has started ILHousingsearch.org, a free, bilingual Web site that aims to help people find housing that suits their needs and financial capacities.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and Illinois Department on Aging have all partnered to offer this site, which was launched earlier this week.

"In this economy, it's more important than ever to help Illinois residents locate housing quickly," said Gloria L. Materre, executive director at IDHA, in a press release. "Families will now have a variety of housing options at their fingertips"

The site, offered in English and Spanish, allows users to search for housing by city or county, and enables them to search by the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, rent range, proximity to public transportation, the amount required for a security deposit, and whether or not Section 8 vouchers are accepted. among various other search options.

A wealth of information is available on the "Tenant Tools" tab, including a rental checklist, rent affordability calculator and chart, examples of moving costs and a moving costs calculator.

So, for example, a family of four that earns $35,000 per year, without a Section 8 voucher, hoping to rent a two-bedroom residence in Evanston should be looking at what's available for $875 per month or less, based on the premise that not more than 30 percent of gross income should be spent on rent, including utilities.

There are currently 846 properties listed in Cook County, which includes Chicago and Evanston.

Property owners and managers, including housing Authorities and private landlords, can list their properties on the site for free.

In addition to the free site, which runs on software created by SocialServe.com, people who are interested in utilizing this service can access the toll-free, bilingual call center at 1-877-428-8844, which is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST.
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