Martinez to struggling families: Rent assistance is on its way

martinez 031120CHICAGO – To support working families financially burdened by the COVID-19 outbreak, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is promoting the state’s effort to provide grant programs for residents struggling to make ends meet in disproportionately impacted areas.

“Because of unemployment issues and other financial stresses during the pandemic, many working families have struggled to keep a roof over their heads,” Martinez said. “Thankfully, relief will soon be available for Illinois residents, especially in black and brown communities.”

Prioritizing renters impacted by the pandemic, the Illinois Housing Development Authority is launching a $150 million program with $5,000 grants to provide emergency rental assistance to Illinois tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The program is scheduled for August 2020 and intended to run through the end of the year.

IHDA is also launching a separate $150 million program for eligible Illinois homeowners with grants of up to $15,000 to provide support with mortgage payments. The program is also expected to launch in August 2020 and provide assistance through the end of the year. More information will be available in the coming weeks on IHDA’s website:

Other grant programs announced Wednesday include assistance for small business through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity totaling $85 million, resources to lessen effects of poverty for Illinois residents through the Department of Human Services totaling $32.5 million, and Emergency Senior Services Funds worth up to $5 million administered by the Department on Aging.

Martinez announces Chicago Public Schools to receive grant

Senator MartinezCHICAGO – To recruit and retain quality educators at city schools, Chicago Public Schools will receive a $200,000 grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to support teacher residencies, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) announced Thursday.

“Although teachers have always played a vital role in our communities by educating our youth, we’ve really seen a wave of appreciation and support due to the extra sacrifices and hard work educators have exhibited during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Martinez said. “Encouraging more people to join the teaching profession and investing in residency programs is an important step to offer the opportunity to inspired, educated individuals considering making a career change.”

Teacher residency programs offer an alternative to the traditional teacher preparation experience. In partnership with state-recognized higher education institutions that have approved teacher preparation programs, residency programs provide clinical experience alongside mentor teachers, while also providing additional staffing in high-need areas.

ISBE is accepting applications for the next round of Teacher Residency Planning Grants. The grant application is open to local education agencies that serve high numbers of students of color or low-income students, or have a high demand for new teachers.

Interested applicants can learn more about the grants and apply here.

Martinez supports budget investing in underserved communities

martinez 031120CHICAGO – In recognition of the vast economic devastation the COVID-19 outbreak continues to have on underserved communities, Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is relieved by the investments made for students, business owners and seniors in next year’s budget, which the governor signed into law Wednesday.

“Because of our state’s current fiscal responsibilities, this budget recognizes Illinois’ commitment to funding essential services for students, employees and seniors,” Martinez said. “By providing vital resources, the state is supporting our residents who need the most help in response to the pandemic.”

The FY 21 budget:

  • Continues to fulfill the state’s commitment to fully fund P-12 and higher education, with an additional $12.7 million going to the Illinois State Board of Education,
  • •Appropriates over $600 million in funding for businesses impacted by COVID-19, with grants and other resources specifically for daycare providers and underserved communities,
  • •Provides an additional $201.7 million to the Illinois Department on Aging and $28 million in new money to the Community Care Program, which supports seniors who live independently in their homes, and
  • •Allocated an additional $32 million in funding for services to immigrant welcoming centers to help recent immigrants get the COVID-19-related help they need.

Another priority of the Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus was passed in the FY 21 budget, which included expanding Medicaid eligibility to low-income undocumented people over 65 years old.

“Expanding Medicaid coverage to undocumented seniors is an additional resource to allow them to prioritize their health and security — not just for themselves and their families, but from financial devastation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Martinez said. “Once testing positive, residents should only be worrying about recovery, not about the financial burden related to medical bills.”

In addition, the budget appropriates nearly $60 million in funding to the Department of Employment Security to address the challenges with the unemployment system, allowing the department to hire more staff for assistance on claims.

The FY 21 budget is effective July 1, 2020.

Senator Martinez warns of COVID-19 cyber scams

martinez 031120CHICAGO — More scams are popping up as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) urges people to be careful when responding to requests for money or personal information.
“We can all understand the desire to help others during this time, but I can’t stress the importance of using extreme caution when giving personal information over the phone or computer,” Martinez said.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul said attorneys general from across the nation have seen an increase in reports of people posing as charitable organizations or public health agencies. Those scams, according to Raoul, include cyber scams, telephone and text messaging scams, counterfeit product offers, bogus door-to-door offers of tests and products related to the coronavirus and solicitations for donations to phony charities.
Some of the most common scams seen by Raoul include:
•   Emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and other health care organizations, offering to share information about the virus;
•   Emails asking for the verification of personal data, including Medicare or Medicaid information, in exchange for receiving economic stimulus funds or other benefits from the government;
•   Email phishing scams, text messages from unknown sources which may include hyperlinks to what appear to be automated pandemic updates, or interactive infection maps;
•   COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits that are made online, in stores, through electronic messages or over the phone.
For more information or to report scams connected to COVID-19, please visit the attorney general’s website:​. 

Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez

Assistant Majority Leader
20th District

Years served:
2003 - Present
Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Education; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation; Subcommittee on Gov. Operations; Pension Investments Special Com. On (Co-Chairperson); Revenue (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born Feb. 25, 1956, in Chicago; earned her bachelor's degree in public policy and administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009; elected president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Co-Chair; has one daughter.

Associated Representatives:
Jaime M. Andrade, Jr.
Will Guzzardi