Illinois Action Alert: Ask Your State Legislators to End Source of Income Discrimination

 

April 20, 2021 | by Jerome Palliser

Illinois Action Alert: Ask Your State Legislators to End Source of Income Discrimination

Today, we ask your help to contact Illinois legislators about an important housing rights bill. HB 2775/SB 2492 is the same bill, designed to end source of income discrimination for renters statewide.

[Here is a quick action link to send a message to your state legislators for their support.]

Here is further detail from our colleagues at the Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing:

Background

Despite the fair housing rights provided in the Illinois Human Rights Act, many Illinoisans face housing discrimination that locks them out of opportunities due to the exclusion of source of income (SOI) protections. Currently, landlords in areas without SOI protections can legally deny housing to individuals simply because they choose not to accept the applicant’s legal form of income. Unfortunately, this is common. The approximately 99,000 Housing Choice Voucher participants1 and the 575,000+ households earning non-wage income such as SSI, SSDI, TANF, or child support confront stigma, misunderstanding, and outright unwillingness to accept their forms of income. And now, during the COVID19 pandemic, vulnerable workers such as those in the service industry have seen increases in the rate of SOI discrimination because their profession is viewed as unstable.

We must pass this legislation to make source of income discrimination illegal in real estate transactions.

This Legislation Will:

  • Protect all Illinois residents from SOI discrimination.
  • Create clear guidelines for the real estate industry on how to evaluate renter income eligibility.
  • Create stronger protections at the state level that extend to those living in places that currently have protections
  • Prevent landlords from refusing to rent to veterans because they have a subsidy from the VA.
  • Allow victims of illegal SOI discrimination to seek justice in court for the first time in Illinois.
  • Require landlords to consider child support and alimony as income.
  • Eliminate barriers for victims to demand basic remedies when the Act is violated (e.g. requiring the violator to obtain fair housing education).

It will also strengthen the effectiveness of the State’s COVID response by:

  • ‚Äč Prohibiting landlords from refusing to accept Covid-19 rental assistance programs.
  • Amending the Eviction Act to allow a legal defense against an eviction if the owner refuses to accept emergency rental assistance programs.
  • Making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against a person because their industry is viewed as unstable (e.g. service workers).

Precedent

SOI protections exist in 12 states and 87 cities or counties across the country. Some states, like Massachusetts, have had SOI protections since the 1970’s. While the City of Chicago and Cook County are currently protected, the law needs to be strengthened as discrimination remains rampant – a study by Roosevelt University found SOI discrimination present in 48.9% of fair housing tests. Illinoisans deserve stronger protections that are state-wide.

Our Coalition:

The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing is a growing group of impacted community members and advocates committed to making housing access in Illinois equitable and just. Our members include: Access Living – DRACH, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance – HCV Working Group: City Tenant Leader Board, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, HOPE Fair Housing, Housing Action Illinois, Housing Choice Partners – Suburban HCV Working Group, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, Northside Community Resources, and Shriver Center on Poverty Law

To endorse this legislation as an individual or organization visit this link.

For questions about this campaign or to inquire about other ways to get involved, email Michael Chavarria at mchavarria@hcp-chicago.org.