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 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:

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

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;

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

Protects tenants and homeowners from being denied housing based on convictions greater than three years old; and

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

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.

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 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