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Dear Friend,

I hope you and your family are enjoying the first few weeks of summer!

Below, you’ll find a few important state service updates that might interest you, including information on how to apply for rental assistance, get a discount on internet services and protect yourself against identity theft.

My staff and I are ready to help you navigate these programs, as well as address any other questions or concerns you may have about issues facing our community. I encourage you to reach out to us at (773) 278-2020 or my website.

Stay cool!


Cristina Pacione-Zayas, State Senator | 20th District

Illinois Rental Payment Program open to renters

The Illinois Rental Payment Program offers up to $25,000 or 15 months of assistance to households in Illinois that are behind on rent due to pandemic-related job or wage losses. In order to qualify, tenants and housing providers must submit a joint application with proof of financial hardship as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic. The period for landlords to initiate an application is now closed, but renters can begin the application process starting Monday, June 28. Apply by July 18, and earn more at

Fee-based license suspensions and holds to be lifted July 1

Starting July 1, Illinois will no longer suspend a license for any ticket debt, fines or fees, including parking tickets, red-light camera tickets and abandoned vehicle fees. If your license is currently suspended or revoked due to a failure to pay a fee, it will be reinstated automatically for free by July 1. However, if there were multiple reasons for the hold on your record, your license may still be invalid—call the secretary of state’s hotline at 217-212-6212 to check.

Internet service discounts available for low-income families

More than 1.1 million Illinoisans lack access to at-home internet services, which can be a barrier to education and employment. To help close the digital divide, the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit program offers a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible low-income households, plus a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. Apply now at or call 833-511-0311.

Beware of texts, emails soliciting personal information

Over the last several weeks, people across Illinois and the country have reported an uptick in scammers claiming to be from state agencies to steal personal information. Protect yourself from fraud: Never give out your Social Security number or banking information via text or email, and don’t click links contained in suspicious messages. If you have questions about phishing scams or identity theft, call the Illinois Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Hotline at 800-386-5438 or visit

Three major rating agencies upgrade Illinois’ financial outlook

Recently, Fitch Ratings became the third rating agency to bump up Illinois’ credit, promoting our state’s outlook on Illinois’ General Obligation bonds from negative to positive. Another major credit rating agency, Moody’s Investor Services, also changed Illinois’ rating to positive. Over the past few years, we’ve been working hard to repay outstanding loans and drive down the bill backlog—even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we passed two balanced budgets and stuck to the path of fiscal responsibility. I’m proud to announce these efforts are paying off. Read more about what this means for Illinois.

Chicago Early Learning - Enrollment Outreach and Recruitment

Children First Fund - in partnership with Chicago Public School’s Office of Early Childhood Education (OECE) - seeks to partner with community-serving organizations in Chicago interested in promoting enrollment in Chicago Early Learning (CEL) programs across their community and supporting families in the application process. Applicants should be rooted in one of the 26 target communities, identified on page three of the application, which have had historically low rates of enrollment in CPS early childhood programs.

Interested organizations across multiple sectors (health, social service, food pantries, mutual aid, etc.) are invited to apply for funds up to $16,000 to implement innovative, community-level strategies to increase applications to CEL programs in their communities. For more information on the opportunity and a link to the application, click here.

COVID-19 Funeral Assitance

FEMA is amending the agency’s COVID-19 funeral assistance policy to assist with COVID-19 related fatalities that occurred in the early months of the pandemic. Individuals who would like to apply for assistance should call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline toll free, at 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday - Friday. More information on COVID-19 Funeral Assistance can be found here.

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Office Information

Springfield Office:
M120 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8191
District Office:
3140 W. Montrose
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 278-2020