Van Pelt

  • Van Pelt sponsors mobile testing on the West Side

    pvp covid test 073020CHICAGO – Earlier this week, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) hosted mobile COVID-19 testing for over a hundred adults on the city’s West Side in a collaboration with Howard Brown Health, West Garfield Community Park Stakeholders, and Fathers Who Care.

    “The older adults in my community are still struggling,” Van Pelt said. “The pandemic is still out there, and they still didn’t have access to necessary resources to stay alive. We wanted to do whatever we could to address that, hoping to provide some relief.”

  • Van Pelt celebrates the renaming of Douglas Park

    douglas park 072320CHICAGO – After years of being challenged by West Side youth, the Chicago Park District Board voted Wednesday to rename Douglas Park after famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass. State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is celebrating the victory in her district.

    “I’m glad the city is finally taking this step, after years of pleas to rid the park of Stephen Douglas’ name,” Van Pelt said. “Though there’s still massive issues in front of us, these victories are also significant, and I hope other cities will reconsider the monuments and park names across the state.”

    Students from the Village Leadership Academy in North Lawndale first asked the board to rename the park back in 2017, and have not let up since, creating petitions and receiving support letters from local officials.

    Most recently, students held a teach-in at the park to further invigorate their campaign and educate their community on Stephen Douglas and Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass.

    “The voices of our youth are so important,” Van Pelt said. “It brings a smile to my face knowing the difference they’ve made this week. I implore them to keep educating, and keep raising their voices against injustice.”

    The board voted unanimously to rename the park, giving residents 45 days to weigh in on the decision. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has confirmed that this decision is a part of a larger plan “to address our racial history and past, to take account and inventory of what exists in the city and sister agencies to memorialize our past but also account for what’s missing.”  

  • Van Pelt remembers Congressman John Lewis

    johnlewis 072120CHICAGO – Last Friday, a great civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis passed away. State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) released the following statement, remembering his life and legacy:

    “John Lewis was a great man who overcame so many things. As the son of sharecroppers born in the Jim Crow South, he defied all the expectations set for him. He was an inspiration to so many across skin colors and across generations.

    “He was committed to justice, believing if you see something that isn’t fair, you must speak up. Though we have come a long way since he was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for our right to vote, there is still much injustice to speak out against. There is still a long way to go in this fight for justice, and we will finish what Rep. Lewis and so many others started.

    “Despite his passing, his legacy lives on in all of us. Because of his sacrifice, we can live in a better America, and we will honor his legacy with our persistence in this fight for equality – whether it’s protesting in the streets, at the ballot box, or through our role as legislators. Change won’t come overnight, but it will come.”

  • Van Pelt calls for all racist propaganda to come down, says Obama statue is long overdue

    obama 071620CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is calling on lawmakers to reevaluate the statues on Illinois state capitol grounds, starting with the replacement of the Stephen Douglas statue with the country’s first Black president and former Illinois senator.

    “Former President Barack Obama has accomplished so much, and there is barely any celebration of him anywhere around our state capitol,” Van Pelt said. “Some of the most significant moments in his early career took place in Springfield. It is a statue that’s long overdue.”

    Douglas, like many politicians of his era, was a racist who owned slaves. He supported the 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which denied enslaved people their freedom, even in free states like Illinois. More than 750,000 Americans felt the way Douglas did, which led to a war over slavery.

    Despite their defeat, Confederate memorabilia still is seen around the state and country.

    For many Black Americans, this memorabilia is a sign of hate, with symbols such as the Confederate Flag being comparable to how Jewish people feel about the swastika.

    “Tearing down racist statues is not erasing history,” Van Pelt said. “If America is serious about the empowerment of Black lives -- and other groups that have been marginalized in this country -- it should be reflected in our symbols and in our statues.”

    In calling for the removal of the Douglas statue, Van Pelt echoes sentiments from colleague Senator Emil Jones III. If Douglas’ statue was removed, Illinois would join a handful of states that have begun to tear down these statues of oppression in response to the death of George Floyd.

  • Van Pelt: It’s time for Chicago Police to take accountability for the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

    fred hampton 071520CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is calling for the Chicago Police Department to apologize for the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in 1969.

    “The murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were violent and brutal acts by the Chicago Police Department. Though it happened more than 50 years ago, Black Americans are still waiting for justice and accountability,” Van Pelt said. “How are Black and Brown Americans ever expected to trust the police when they got away with murder, and continue to do so?”

  • Van Pelt urges child care centers to apply for Child and Adult Care Food Program funding

    child lunchCHICAGO – With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of families depend on federally funded nutrition programs, leading State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) to educate child care centers about the upcoming Child and Adult Care Food Program and the resources it will help provide.

    “This pandemic has proven to be a time of struggle for many. I am happy this program will continue, so our children never have to go hungry,” Van Pelt said.

    In addition to child care centers, Head Start programs, emergency shelters and day care home providers will be eligible for the funding, which will offer healthy meals to children.

    People in households who participate in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are also eligible to receive free meal benefits. Families that don’t receive TANF or SNAP benefits eligibility will be determined by the USDA Household Income Eligibility Guidelines.

    A member of the household should contact their child care center or day care home provider to learn about benefits of the CACFP if their household’s income falls within or below the listed guidelines. They may be required to complete an application and provide income, TANF or SNAP information.

    Children enrolled in Head Start or Early Head Start programs at approved Head Start facilities, and foster care children who are legal responsibilities of the state or court also receive free meal assistance. To find out if they participate in CACFP, parents or guardians should contact their child care center or day care home provider.


    Income Eligibility Guidelines

    Effective from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021


    Free Meals                                                                                                 



    Reduced-Price Meals                                                                                                 

    130% Federal Poverty Guideline

    185% Federal Poverty Guideline

    Household Size



    Twice Per Month

    Every Two Weeks


    Household Size



    Twice Per Month

    Every Two Weeks











































































































    For each additional family member, add






    For each additional family member, add








    How to apply:


  • Van Pelt: Black mothers matter

    vanpelt 022119CHICAGO – July 3, yet another Black woman fell victim to the inequities of the American health system. Sha-Asia Washington was only 26 when she died during an emergency C-section after delivering her baby girl at Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital in New York. Exhausted by repeated tragic headlines regarding maternal mortality, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is pleading for a deeper change in the health care system.

    “Sha-Asia died as she was trying to create a new life,” Van Pelt said. “The doctors failed her. The health care system failed her. How many more Black mothers have to die before we begin to take maternal mortality seriously?”

    An independent autopsy confirmed that Sha-Asia died from a heart attack caused by the epidural she was given, despite her objections to it. Her unjust death inflamed a protest in Bed-Stuy.

    “Sha-Asia had a whole life ahead of her – her baby’s life, a proposal she’ll never get to hear, a marriage she’ll never experience,” Van Pelt said. “The doctors in this country have to do better. Listen to Black women. Believe us when we tell you we’re in pain, or when we say enough is enough.”

    Black women are two to three times more likely to die than white women who suffer from maternal complications.

    Illinois recently established a task force and created laws to address some of the issues relating to maternal mortality and how it disproportionately affects Black women. Van Pelt and her colleagues will continue to push for legislation that prevents more Black women from suffering the same fate as Sha-Asia.

  • Van Pelt: Good cops should not need to fight an unjust system

    cops 070820CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) had this to say Wednesday on news the Joliet Police Department placed Sgt. Javier Esqueda on administrative leave after he spoke out on the death of Eric Lurry, a Black man who died in the custody of Joliet police officers earlier this year:

    “Why is it that the officer who spoke out on Eric Lurry’s death was reprimanded but the officers responsible for Lurry’s death were not?

    “Sgt. Esqueda has become a sad example of the problem with police departments. We want to believe that ‘Not all cops are bad,’ but when cops actually try to do right, they are admonished for speaking out against the injustices happening in their ranks.

    “Good cops should not need to fight against being silenced when they speak up about injustice. We will never be able to fix things in this country and prevent deaths like George Floyd’s, Eric Lurry’s, and too many other Black people’s, if the officers who speak out against racism and brutality are punished for it.”

  • Van Pelt: Systemic racism is a public health crisis

    vanpelt 030320 1CHICAGO – Over the past several weeks, Chicago has seen gun violence rates higher than they’ve been in 60 years. In response to the violence, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

    “I am incredibly disheartened by all the bloodshed that has occurred in our city. Too many lives have been lost these past few weeks. Our children deserve to live in their communities without fear. Our children deserve to live in areas where their zip code won’t determine their livelihoods.


    “Ending gun violence will require a multi-layered approach that addresses the history of disenfranchisement, discrimination, and destruction of the family unit Black Chicagoans have suffered. Gentrification, poverty, restricted access to opportunities and life necessities - all are forms of violence. These socioeconomic conditions are rooted in racist systems, and must be addressed as such. Systemic racism is a public health crisis, and it’s been around way longer than COVID-19.


    “When one neighborhood suffers, we all do. True equity, economically and in every other facet of life, is the only solution. We must all commit to reinvesting in our communities and wiping out the roots of violence, and I will work to make sure we get the funding necessary to fight these inequities.”

  • Van Pelt on minimum wage increase: It’s about time

    paycheck 070620CHICAGO – July 1 marked the second phase of Illinois’ minimum wage increase, which State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said will help workers as they navigate the complications of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Working class citizens have been waiting for their fair due for too long,” Van Pelt said. “People should not have to worry about earning a reasonable income, especially during a global pandemic.”

    Starting this month, the state’s minimum wage increases to $10 per hour. This is the second in a series of increases required by a law passed in 2019 (the first was back in January at $9.25 an hour). The wage will continue to increase by $1 every Jan. 1 until 2025, when it reaches $15 per hour.

    Communities like Cook County and Chicago have already set higher minimum wages. The city of Chicago’s minimum wage also increased on July 1 to $13.50 per hour for small employers (those with four to 20 employees) and $14 per hour for large employers (those with 21 or more employees).

    Carol Washington, a workforce coordinator in the 5th District, says this increase is long overdue.

    “The minimum wage we’ve been forced to work under has not provided a livable wage for many,” Washington said. “It’s very difficult when your wage remains the same while the cost of living is going up and up.”

    Washington also addressed the pushback from business leaders who have advocated for the bill to be rescinded due to the pandemic and its associated financial adversities:

    “Businesses get bailed out all the time. People don’t,” Washington said. “While I do empathize with them, the rest of us often get left behind. When things were good, when there was prosperity – we were not thought of. Now is the time for them to put their feet to the fire and continue moving in the right direction.”

  • Van Pelt to hardest hit businesses: Help is available through new grants

    vanpelt 012820CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) joined Gov. Pritzker and members of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucuses to announce new grants that will help businesses that have faced extreme hardship due to COVID-19-related closures.

    “Many business owners fear that they have suffered past the point of recovery because they have done the right thing and closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Van Pelt said. “But I am hopeful that these grants will help alleviate that damage and ensure these local businesses can look forward to a day when this crisis is behind us.”

    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is directing the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program, which allocates $636 million toward new grant initiatives. The first round of BIG grants is valued at $60 million and aims to offset the costs that businesses acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recent civil unrest. Grants are broken down by type of business as follows:

    • Businesses in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) with Recent Significant Property Damage
      • 1,000 grants of $20,000.
    • Bars and Restaurants
      • 1,000 grants of $20,000.
      • 50% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.
    • Barbershops and Salons
      • 1,000 grants of $10,000.
      • 50% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.
    • Fitness Centers
      • 500 grants of $20,000.
      • 30% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.

    Applications for these programs will open Monday, June 22 on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website and will remain open for 7-14 days. One week after the application period closes, grant administration partners will begin reaching out to recipients.

  • Lightford, Van Pelt announce financial assistance for hardest hit businesses

    Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

    CHICAGO – Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) joined Gov. Pritzker and small business owners to announce new grants that will help businesses that have been particularly harmed by closures to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Black and Latino communities are the hardest hit by COVID-19, another symptom of the disease that is racism in our country,” Leader Lightford said. “Working families who have yet to receive a proper pay day have struggled to maintain during this time. Our small business built in our local communities by the people who care about them the most were forced to shut down and were damaged by individuals who exploited our pain for personal gain. They need a government that will work for them without hesitation.”

    The Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program is a $636 million initiative administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The first round of BIG grants, valued at $60 million, will offset the costs that businesses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest. Grants are broken down by type of business as follows:

    • Businesses in Disproportionately Impacted Areas (DIAs) with Recent Significant Property Damage
      • 1,000 grants of $20,000.
    • Bars and Restaurants
      • 1,000 grants of $20,000.
      • 50% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.
    • Barbershops and Salons
      • 1,000 grants of $10,000.
      • 50% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.
    • Fitness Centers
      • 500 grants of $20,000.
      • 30% of grants will go to businesses in DIAs.

    DCEO will publish a full list of eligible costs and losses that can be covered by the BIG program. Applications for these programs will open Monday, June 22 on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website and will remain open for 7-14 days. One week after the application period closes, grant administration partners will begin reaching out to recipients. Priority will be given to businesses in DIAs.

  • Van Pelt urges voters to use expanded vote by mail

    Senator Van PeltCHICAGO – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) urged voters to practice social distancing measures while casting their ballot this fall under an expansion of Illinois' vote by mail program signed into law today by Governor JB Pritzker.

    “In the midst of the pandemic, we wanted to make sure everyone had the option the vote safely,” Van Pelt said. “Voting is crucial to maintaining a functional democracy, and we can’t allow this pandemic to disrupt our self-governance.”

    Senate Bill 1863 ensures that every Illinoisan who has voted within the last two years will be sent a vote by mail application for the 2020 election. Under this legislation, voters may register online to automatically request a vote by mail ballot, rather than having to apply.

    Furthermore, early voting and Election Day hours will be extended. Election authorities will be required to expedite ballots, so that voters are guaranteed enough time to vote.

    In addition, Election Day 2020 will become a state holiday, helping ensure that every voter has the opportunity to cast their vote.

    “This election will be the most important of our lifetime,” Van Pelt said. “With these new measures, I am hopeful that Illinois will see a turnout like never before.”

    Voters are now able to apply for an absentee ballot, and can register here.

  • Van Pelt: State budget provides crucial support

    vanpelt 030320 1CHICAGO – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) issued the following statement today as the Governor signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year:

    “Many are suffering grave misfortunes due to COVID-19, and it’s crucial that the state budget provides all the support possible to the organizations that need it now more than ever.

    “I am glad that the governor stands with the General Assembly, and signed a budget that safeguards funding for the schools, universities, non-profits and the social service programs that are essential to our communities.

    “The people and the organizations that are most vulnerable will get the support they need, with an additional $600 million for affected businesses, and an additional $600 million for the Department of Public Health, all while protecting education from any budget cuts.

    “The Community Care Program will get another $28 million, which is just one way this budget aims to protect the elderly, one of the populations worst affected by the coronavirus.

    “This budget acknowledges that we are in a crisis while balancing the needs of the people with state resources and available opportunities from the federal government. I look forward to organizations getting the relief they need.”

  • Senate Black Caucus members stand with communities in calling for swift action

    Sen. Christopher Belt

    SPRINGFIELD—Senators of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement after the protests and riots in Chicago brought on by racist acts of violence against countless African Americans, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor: 

    Senator Christopher Belt(D-Centreville), ILBC Senate Co-chair

    “In 1903, the great black scholar, W.E.B. Dubois, stated “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. Here we stand in 2020, fighting for justice and equality because of that very same issue, the color line. That said, please understand this is not just ‘our’ problem, but rather, it is a ‘we’ problem. I am calling on my fellow legislators to stand with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to denounce this system of racial injustice that injures, destroys and kills not only people of color, but the very fabric of the American tapestry,” Belt said.

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)

    “COVID-19 was not done showing us just how deep the inequities in our country are before we had another series of Black murders at the hands of racists in the headlines. It is exhausting to feel like you have been yelling at the top of your lungs for years without being heard, and I am deeply pained for our people forced to live in fear in the very country they helped build,” Lightford said. “I extend a call to action to my colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly and legislators across the country to hear the ache in the hearts of those who are fed up. We can only move forward by coming together to ensure every individual’s basic human rights are protected.”

    Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago)

    “What we are witnessing from many of the protestors is a demand for change—an acknowledgment that the status quo is unacceptable and must end. They are crying out, screaming to be heard and wondering aloud how many more will have to die before we finally recognize the sanctity of black lives,” Sims said. “As we fight tirelessly for justice, I ask that we don’t use lawlessness as a means to do it. I know there is an overwhelming need to be heard and understood. If no one else hears you, I do. I will continue to work relentlessly with leaders on all levels to fix our utterly broken system and hold bad actors accountable. We can, and we will, achieve change together.”

    Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago)

    "The story of this crisis isn’t the looting, it is the why, the what, and the how,” Peters said. “Why are people so mad? Why are people so hurt? What do people need? How are we going to help?"

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago)

    “Just in the last month, we’ve mourned the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now George Floyd,” Van Pelt said. “How many more names must be said? Countless black lives were lost at the hands of police, failed under a system that was never meant to protect them, never meant to protect people that look like me. We can’t breathe, and haven’t been able to since we were abducted from the shores of our native land."

    Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago)

    "What we are witnessing today is the strange fruit sown by institutional racism and neglect. It has given us a harvest of poverty, mass incarceration, food and health deserts as well as educational inequity.  We are not only fighting a virus, but violence and vandalism. Yet, we should not conflate the peaceful protests and righteous indignation with the criminality of a few bad apples," Collins said.

    "The days ahead of us must be days of rebuilding and healing, but they must also be days of reform and accountability that save lives. We must come together with one voice to say 'Black Lives Matter.' If we do not have reform and accountability, then there can truly be no healing."

    Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

     “The deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are painful illustrations of the deep-rooted systems of oppression, and systems of protection for bad actors, that continue to burden African-American families. These murders sow further hopelessness, anger, and agony, which has been expressed over the past few days through widespread protests. While some have seen this as an excuse to commit shameful acts of destruction, it was heartening to see countless Chicagoans take to the streets to peacefully demand justice and make our voices heard in a productive way,” Hunter said.

    “Our path forward must not end with protests. Now is the time to harness our collective anger to galvanize a movement toward ending police violence and enacting transformational reforms centered around police accountability, transparency, and oversight.”

    Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago)

    "It is sickening that we have to continuously address the racial biases the criminal justice system has against Black Americans. It's evident how much racial disparity is prevalent throughout the justice system and how much officers believe we are so much of a threat to the country that we helped build.

    "The whole situation is just tiring, and a change is more than overdue. Even if you're not a part of the problem, you must be well aware of the harassment that blacks receive daily and how the media would rather paint a bad picture of us than be a part of the solution. 

    "We cannot solve this problem on our own. We profess no easy answers. It's obvious that real change will only happen when all of America believes Black Lives Matter."

    Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Dolton)

    “The young people of America have mobilized in unified outrage and it is time we acknowledged their cries. It is time we acknowledged the humanity and grievances of African-Americans throughout this country."

  • Illinois expanding vote by mail

    vote by mail 1200bSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) voted Thursday to pass a plan to guarantee that every Illinoisan who has voted within the last two years will be sent a vote by mail application for the 2020 election.

    “Voting is crucial to a functioning democracy,” Van Pelt said, speaking from Springfield while attending a special legislative session convened with social distancing measures. “We have the technology to accurately and safely ensure our voices are heard. We refuse to allow a pandemic to disrupt our self-governance.”

  • Van Pelt: We must act now to save seniors

    vanpelt 012820CHICAGO – To bring attention to the many West Side seniors who aren’t getting the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic, Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) held a press conference Sunday and urged the community to get involved with relief efforts.

    “What are these seniors supposed to do?” said Van Pelt. “They have no resources, no transportation, which means no access to testing, no way to get groceries, no basic sanitary products. Somebody’s got to act on their behalf.”

    Van Pelt was joined at the press conference by a number of community leaders, including:


    • Robin Hood, Senior Liaison for the 5th District;
    • Rosemary Coleman, Local Advisory Council President (LAC) for Chicago Housing Authority;
    • Louvenia Hood, Executive Director, Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere; and
    • Valencia Pringle, Executive Director, Family Cares Mission.

    They discussed the needs of the senior community, and how they have been neglected. Seniors are the most susceptible to the virus, with nearly half of the state’s cases being reported in nursing homes.

    Before the press conference, Van Pelt and her team distributed 10,000 pairs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hundreds of residents at Albany Terrace and Patrick Sullivan Apartments. Patrick Sullivan is one of three homes in the senior living community that has suffered coronavirus-related casualties, according to LAC President Rosemary Coleman.

    “I feared this would happen,” said Rev. Hood. “These seniors have been left in the dark, deprived of the resources they need to stay alive. I’m not going to sit here and wait for them to die.”

    Despite the PPE packages the seniors received on Sunday, Van Pelt says that won’t be enough to protect them against the worst of the coronavirus.

    “For the sake of our seniors’ health and safety, we can’t let the current conditions continue,” Van Pelt said. “I urge members of the community to step in and donate what they can to help make sure our older citizens can get the help they need.”

    Van Pelt’s office is partnering with Family Cares Mission and asks that anyone interested in helping the city’s seniors donate here.

  • Van Pelt: We must all count!

    census 050720Urges Chicagoans to complete the 2020 Census

    CHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) reminded city residents to fill out the 2020 Census, pointing out that their legislative representation and federal funding is dependent on their participation.

    “Funding for everything from hospitals, unemployment, school lunch programs, community businesses– are all determined by census participation,” Van Pelt said. “It’s crucial that everyone fills it out. It will only take 10 minutes of your time.”

  • Van Pelt urges private student-loan borrowers to call their providers

    collegestudents 030520CHICAGO —Nearly 140,000 Illinoisans could benefit from a new effort to help people struggling to pay their student loans. In light of the countless Americans falling behind due to the unprecedented economic hardships faced on both a statewide and national level, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) emphasized the importance of seeking relief.

    “Paying student loans is the last thing people should have to worry about during this pandemic,” Van Pelt said. “I urge everyone impacted to contact their loan providers as soon as possible. Borrowers need to be aware of all student loan deferment options available to them.”

    Introduced by Gov. JB Pritzker and Secretary Deborah Hagan of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, this initiative will allow people with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are having a hard time making their payments due to COVID-19 to be eligible for expanded relief.

    Borrowers in need of assistance are encouraged to contact their student loan provider immediately to set up a plan.

    Relief options are based on a person’s individual needs and include:

    • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance,
    • Waiving late payment fees,
    • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting,
    • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days,
    • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

    Anyone having problems contacting their student loan servicer should call the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Division of Banking at 217-785-2900 or the attorney general’s student loan helpline at 1-800-455-2456.

  • Van Pelt expands Goal Setting Art Contest in response to school closures

    Sen. Patricia Van PeltCHICAGO – The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to school closures in Illinois, potentially leaving parents responsible for home-schooling their children through April. While families are making arrangements, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt is launching a career-focused art contest for students.

    Earlier this month, Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all K-12 schools — both public and private — be closed from March 17 to April 7 (April 21 for Chicago Public Schools) to further safeguard communities from the spread of the virus.