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 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 December 31, 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
Passing this amendment will help people like…
Quotes from No Place to Call Home: Navigating Reentry in Chicago, by Roosevelt University Policy Research Collaborative and BPI, 2018