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 their communities.
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 ensures 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 December 31, 2019, the Just Housing Amendment:
Ensures that housing providers and housing authorities do not consider arrests, juvenile records, and sealed and expunged records when evaluating someone’s application for rental housing;
Protects tenants and homeowners from being denied housing based on convictions greater than three years old; and
Requires housing providers to conduct an individualized assessment for applicants with convictions that are less than three years old, considering factors such as the nature of the offense and how much time has passed since it happened.
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 are
- Helping create a second chance for people who have been arrested or served sentences.
- Supporting 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.
- Supporting successful reentry and reduce recidivism, which also saves Illinois taxpayers money (each event of recidivism costs more than $150,000).
- Taking a major step towards racial and economic justice, since communities of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated and as such are also disproportionately affected by housing discrimination against people with records.
Just Housing helps people like…
Quotes from No Place to Call Home: Navigating Reentry in Chicago, by Roosevelt University Policy Research Collaborative and BPI, 2018