Illinois Hardest Hit Program

The Illinois Hardest Hit Program provides mortgage payment assistance to struggling homeowners.

The Illinois Hardest Hit Program, which is funded through the Hardest Hit Fund, provides mortgage payment assistance for homeowners who are currently (or were previously) unemployed or underemployed. Keep reading to get an overview of the program, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible.

(To learn about foreclosure procedures in Illinois, and programs to assist Illinois homeowners, visit our Illinois Foreclosure Law Center.)

Hardest Hit Fund

In 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to homeowners in those states most affected by the housing market crash. As part of this program, $7.6 billion in aid was allocated to the 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., that experienced the most extreme home price declines and high unemployment rates as a result of the economic crisis. (Learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund.)

Illinois was originally awarded over $445 million in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. In 2016, an additional $269,474,060 was awarded. (Learn more about the Illinois foreclosure process.) To do this, the state set up the Illinois Hardest Hit Program.

The Illinois Hardest Hit Program

The Illinois Hardest Hit program is designed to help homeowners who are currently experiencing an income loss or have experienced one in the past that caused them to fall behind on their mortgage payments. The two types of mortgage assistance available under the Illinois Hardest Hit Program are:

  • the Reinstatement Assistance program, which is a one-time payment covering past-due mortgage payments, fees, and penalties in full, and
  • the Monthly Mortgage Payment Assistance program, which pays monthly mortgage payments. (Reinstatement can also be part of this program.)

Homeowners are eligible to receive up to $35,000 or 12 months of assistance, whichever occurs first.

How the Illinois Hardest Hit Program Works

Assistance is provided in the form of a 5-year forgivable loan secured by a junior lien that is recorded against the property.

You only need to repay the loan if you:

  • sell your home at a profit, or
  • refinance during the loan term.

Borrower Eligibility

To be eligible for the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, you must meet all of the below criteria.

  • You have a documented income reduction of 15% through no fault of your own. (Qualifying hardships include unemployment, underemployment, loss of business income, disability, death of a spouse, or divorce.)
  • Your household income is no more than 120% of the area median income.
  • You don’t have more than $17,500 in liquid assets (excluding retirement accounts).

Home Eligibility Criteria

Additionally, your existing mortgage and the property securing the mortgage must meet the below criteria.

  • The property is in Illinois.
  • The property is your primary residence.
  • The property is a single-family home, condominium, townhome, or one-to-two unit dwelling (so long as you live in one of the units).
  • The principal loan balance does not exceed $500,000.

Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible if permanently affixed to real estate owned by the applicant. Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your mobile home loan.

Program Exclusions

You are not eligible for the Illinois Hardest Hit Program if one of the below conditions applies to you.

  • You have been convicted of a mortgage-related felony such as larceny, theft, fraud, forgery, money laundering, or tax evasion, within the last ten years.
  • You have an interest-only or negative amortization loan. (Fixed rate and adjustable rate loans are the only eligible loan types.)

Find out additional eligibility requirements and exclusions at

Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in this program is voluntary. (A mortgage servicer is the company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers on behalf of the owner of the loan, as well as tracks account balances, manages the escrow account, handles loss mitigation applications, and pursues foreclosure in the case of defaulted loans.)

After you apply, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) will notify you if your lender is unwilling to participate or objects to a request to assist you once you have been approved for assistance.

Beware of Scams

The Illinois Hardest Hit program is free of charge and you should not pay for any services associated with applying for assistance. Do not pay any company that promises to expedite your application or guarantees approval.

If you feel you have become a victim of mortgage assistance fraud, send an email to

For More Information

If you would like more information about the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, you can call 855-873-7405.

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