Programming Issue Takes Illinois Rental Assistance Portal Offline for 2 Days | Government and politics


SPRINGFIELD — An online portal through which tenants affected by COVID-19 can apply for rental assistance went offline for two days last week after a programming glitch was discovered that compromised some personal information.

It was an applicant’s Feb. 1 call to the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s call center that alerted the department to the problem. The applicant told a call center representative that he saw someone else’s document when he logged on to his rental application, the IHDA spokeswoman said, Amy Lee.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday signaled plans to lift the state’s indoor mask mandate — excluding K-12 schools’ “sensitive locations” — on Feb. 28. More details are expected to be released later today.

“As soon as this information was brought to our attention, we took immediate action to ensure that the safety of our applicants was a priority,” IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust said in a statement. “IHDA fiercely protects the security of personal information in its possession and regrets this incident.”

The portal went offline and all access to external users was blocked while IHDA identified and resolved the issue. The portal was closed until Thursday, February 3, while the IHDA identified and fixed the problem.

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The IHDA found that the personal information exposure was the result of a coding error associated with the web portal update, not hackers. The processing of housing assistance applications was not affected by the error.

Tenants have used the portal to apply for the Illinois Rent Payment Program, or ILRPP, funded by the US federal bailout law signed by President Joe Biden in March.

The portal’s launch was delayed in November when tests revealed it could not handle the expected heavy traffic. The portal opened on December 6 but stopped accepting applications on January 9. Although the portal is no longer accepting new applications, it remains open until February 17 so owners can submit supporting documents for existing applications.

The IHDA received over 89,700 applications. Of these, 110 applications may have had their information compromised. Lee said they had no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that there was any use of the information that was compromised.

The coding was corrected, thoroughly tested, and the portal was brought back online on February 3. The state incurred no additional costs to correct the coding error, Lee said.

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