The Just Housing Amendment

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.

1 in 3 Americans has an arrest record
by the age of 23, regardless of race or

This translates into well over 1 million residents with records
in Cook County.
Almost two thirds of people in prison (62%) in Illinois are parents to children under 18.

Their ability to build a good, stable home
affects their children.

Stable housing opportunities for people with records are key to reducing recidivism and helping us build stronger, safer communities

People re-entering communities with
stable housing are
much less likely to end
up back in prison
than those facing

Each event of recidivism in Illinois costs more than $150,000.
Residents who have been incarcerated are almost 10 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general public.

Experiencing homelessness only makes it more difficult to find a job, care for your children, and rebuild your life.

Housing policies that ban people with records harm people of color and people with disabilities the most

Children blowing bubbles; housing policies that harm people with records harm people of color
Illinois has large racial and ethnic disparities in our prisons and our jails.

This affects families and communities of color. Nationally, 63% of Black and Native American adults and 48% of Latinx adults have had an immediate family member spend at least one night in jail or prison compared to just 42% of white adults.

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:

Just Housing Amendment will require housing providers to consider an application first

Require housing providers to consider an application before inquiring about a
potential tenant’s criminal history

Family in home; Amendment will ban discrimination in real estate transactions

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

Housing providers can't automatically reject an applicant based on a conviction

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.

Amendment will support families, especially children of parents with arrest and conviction records

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