Agency Updates

Regional

ComEd Bill Payment Assistance

Bill payment assistance for income eligible customers is available for customers who may be experiencing financial hardship. The ComEd Bill Payment Assistance Program helps income eligible customers who are past-due on their energy bills. Eligible customers receive a one-time bill assistance credit of up to $500 for past-due balances, up to the amount of the balance. For additional information and to apply, please see the links below. 

Metra

Metra has been running an alternate weekday schedule for the Heritage Corridor line in response to lower ridership due to the coronavirus. For additional information, please visit the Metra website or the Coronavirus page on their site.

Pace Bus

Pace Suburban Bus has been posting announcements available from the homepage of the Pace website. For information regarding Pace’s response to COVID-19, visit their health page.

State

Fraud Penetrating All State Unemployment Systems (IDES)

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has uncovered and is investigating a widespread fraud scheme that is being conducted nationwide, impacting each state’s federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs, implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of individuals who were not traditionally covered by a state’s regular unemployment insurance program, including self-employed and sole proprietors. Under this program, 39 weeks’ worth of benefits are available to PUA claimants whose claims can be backdated as early as February 2, 2020 with benefits ending December 26, 2020.

An individual who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a debit card or an unemployment insurance (UI) finding letter in the mail has most likely been the target of fraud. An individual’s personal identifying information is being used by fraudsters to file an unemployment claim is likely due to a prior cyber hack or data breach, such as the Equifax breach. It is imperative that individuals take the following steps if they have not filed an unemployment claim and have erroneously received an unemployment debit card or UI finding letter in the mail:

  •  Immediately call IDES at (800) 814.0513 and when prompted:
    • Select the English or Spanish language option
    • Select option 1 for claimants
    • Select option 5 to report identity theft
  • Do not activate the debit card that was mailed to you.
  • Have your credit report checked for possible suspicious activity and post a fraud alert.
  • Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website to learn helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.

Illinois Housing Development Authority Announces Emergency Programs 

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) announced that applications for rental assistance are now available for renters who have lost a job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are currently being accepted for eligible tenants through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program. Following the application period for rental assistance, IHDA will open applications for Emergency Mortgage Assistance (EMA) Program.

More information about both programs - including tenant and homeowner eligibility - are available in the full Illinois e-News Release below. Links to the application portals through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) for both the ERA and EMA Programs are also available. 

Federal

U.S. Census Makes Adjustments to the Self-Response Schedule 

The U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted the self-response phase including online, phone, and mailed self-responses throughout the data collection process from March 12 through July 31 to March 12 through September 30. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Pushes Back Real ID Deadline

U.S. Department of Homeland Security pushes back REAL ID deadline one year to October 1, 2021. Current Illinois driver’s licenses or ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities until October 1, 2021. For additional information, please see the Homeland Security Real ID page or Illinois Secretary of State REAL ID page

U.S. Department of State Passport Updates

To view updates on passport operations, please see the U.S. Department of State’s main U.S. Passport page. Passports may be able to be renewed by mail if you can answer "yes" to all five statements provided in this infographic (PDF) from the U.S. Department of State.

Updated September 15, 2020