Home is the cornerstone from which people build better lives for themselves and their families. People with records, like everyone else, deserve a place to call home.
But it can be almost impossible for them to find an apartment or house to rent.
This is a community-wide problem. Many
people living in Cook County have records, and when they can’t find
homes, it affects not only them but also their families and everyone in
Stable housing opportunities for people with records are key to reducing recidivism and helping us build stronger, safer communities
Housing policies that ban people with records harm people of color and people with disabilities the most
The Just Housing Amendment will ensure that people with records have equal access to housing opportunities in Cook County.
Introduced by Chief Sponsor Commissioner Brandon Johnson, voted into law by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on April 25, and effective as of October 25, 2019, the Just Housing Amendment will:
Require housing providers to consider an application before inquiring about a
potential tenant’s criminal history
Ban discrimination in real estate transactions based on an arrest record, citation, juvenile record, sealed or expunged record, or participation in a deferral or judgment program
Keep housing providers from automatically rejecting an applicant based on a conviction; they will need to consider factors such as evidence of rehabilitation, length of time since the conviction, and the nature and severity of the crime
Not a new idea
Other jurisdictions in Illinois already offer protections for people with records. In municipalities such as Urbana, Illinois, people with records are considered a protected class in housing-related transactions, and the use of criminal histories in housing decisions is expressly prohibited.
A common sense, basic step
We all want to live in a fair, safe community. This amendment will help reduce recidivism and protect children and families from the consequences of housing instability.
With this amendment, we will
Help create a second chance for people who have been arrested or served sentences
Support families affected by incarceration, enabling parents to provide for their children and making it more possible for people who have been incarcerated to rejoin and live with family members
Support successful reentry and reduce recidivism, which also saves Illinois taxpayers money (each event of recidivism costs more than $150,000).
Take another step towards racial justice, since communities of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated and as such are also disproportionately affected by housing discrimination against people with records
The Just Housing Initiative is a coalition of individuals with arrest and conviction records, social service providers, community organizers, legal and policy experts, housing and criminal justice advocates who have come together to address housing barriers faced by individuals with arrest and conviction records. Organizations who support our initiative include:
Access Living ACLU of Illinois Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance All Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County Apna Ghar Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Chicago Assata’s Daughters Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park Beds Plus Bethel New Life Block Together Breakthrough Urban Ministries Business and Professional People for the Public Interest Cabrini Green Legal Aid CAIR-Chicago Catholic Charities CEDA Charles P. Fischbach, Former Commissioner, City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Chicago Community Bond Fund Chicago Council of Lawyers Chicago House and Social Service Agency Chicago Jobs Council Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Chicago Urban League Claretian Associates Coalition for Equitable Community Development Community Renewal Society Connections for the Homeless Connections of Illinois Communities United Corporation for Supportive Housing Deborah’s Place Evanston Northshore NAACP EZRA Multi-Service Center Facing Forward to End Homelessness Faith Community Homes Fellowship Housing First Congregational UCC, Evanston First Unitarian Criminal Justice Task Force Ford Heights Community Service Organization Greater West Town Training Partnership Growing Home Inc. Health and Medicine Policy Research Group Heartland Alliance for Human Rights and Human Needs HOPE Fair Housing Center Housing Action Illinois Housing Choice Partners Housing Forward Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) Housing Taskforce Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University Impact Behavioral Health Partners Independent Voters of Illinois- Independent Precinct Organization Inspiration Corporation Interfaith Coalition Against Racism James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy Jane Adams Senior Caucus Jewish Council on Urban Affairs John Howard Association of Illinois John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic Journeys: The Road Home Justice and Witness Ministry, of the Chicago Metropolitan Association, United Church of Christ Kenwood Oakland Community Organization Latino Policy Forum Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA) Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services Lincoln Park Community Services Mental Health America of Illinois Mental Health Summit Metropolitan Planning Council Metropolitan Tenants Organization Mothers Against Senseless Killings Northside Housing and Supportive Services NAMI Chicago National Fair Housing Alliance National Housing Law Project Nehemiah Trinity Rising Northwest Compass Northwest Side Housing Center Northwestern Rethink Relink Chicago! Oak Park Regional Housing Center ONE Northside Open Communities People for Community Recovery Progress Center for Independent Living Project Irene Respond Now Restaurant Opportunities Center Restore Justice Safer Foundation Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law SEIU Healthcare Illinois South Suburban Housing Center South Suburban PADS Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) Southwest Organizing Project Streetwise Strengthening Chicago’s Youth Supportive Housing Providers Association of Illinois TASC, Inc. The Center of Concern The Next Movement The Resurrection Project Together We Cope Thresholds Trilogy Uptown People’s Law Center United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations Westside Health Authority Woodstock Institute Working Family Solidarity
If your organization cares about helping people with records find a place to call home, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the Just Housing Initiative Does your organization want to join our coalition in working to tear down barriers to housing for people with arrest and conviction records?
A huge thank you to everyone who came out on April 24 to show support for the amendment during a hearing by the Human Relations Committee and helped make sure the proposal moved forward!
Next up, we need to get out and educate Cook County! We’ll need to help applicants understand their rights and to inform landlords about the new fair housing protections. Stay tuned for how you can help.