The Near West Side is home to many service-oriented industries – restaurants, hotels, and major music venues – and a large population of renters, many who are working at these Near West Side businesses. When Governor Evers issued the Safer at Home order, many of us were wondering what it meant for our neighbors day-to-day life and what impact it would have on our community.

In response to this crisis, Near West Side Partners quickly re-tooled the Live, Work, Play program to provide grants to support rent payments of employees and renters affected by COVID-19 closures and reduced hours.

NWSP contacted Associated Bank, a financial supporter of the Live, Work, Play housing incentive program, to see if they would be willing to support rental grants to employees and residents who have been affected by COVID-19 closures. Their response was an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Over the next two weeks, news of the rental grants was shared with Near West Side business owners and property management. Grants were provided to employees of Near West Side businesses living in the neighborhood and current Near West Side renters employed outside of the neighborhood. By April 1st nearly $10,000 in rental assistance grants were awarded to 23 tenants. These tenants represent 16 businesses affected by COVID-19 closures, including 9 that are located in the Near West Side.

Given the success of the reimagined program, NWSP has reallocated an additional $5,000 to provide continued support to employees of Near West Side businesses. If you know of an employee that may qualify for a rental grant, please have them contact Lindsey St Arnold Bell at

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