Housing as a Human Right Signed into Law!

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New Law Makes Housing Discrimination Illegal for Arrest, Expunged/Sealed, and Juvenille Records!

Governor JB Pritzker signed our Housing as Human Rights bill (SB1780 HFA 3/PA 101-0565) into law on August 23! Effective January 1, 2020, residents of Illinois will no longer be denied opportunities to find housing based on mere arrests or improperly released criminal records (including expunged/sealed or juvenile records). This is a huge victory towards ensuring housing as a human right for everyone in Illinois.

Thank you for your advocacy with the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois to make this possible! Our leaders traveled to Springfield weekly and met with legislators in their district offices to gain support for this legislation. We also thank our chief sponsors Rep. Curtis Tarver and Sen. Omar Aquino for championing this important bill with us.

Last summer, RROCI surveyed nearly 400 individuals who had a criminal record and one of the most common issues faced were barriers to obtaining housing. This specific initiative was a continuation of our work on record sealing. Despite going through the process to expunge/seal records, nothing prohibited landlords from considering expunged/sealed records (or other arrest records) that might improperly appear on a criminal background check.

Soon the Illinois Human Rights Act will protect buyers and renters with these records to obtain housing. If someone is denied housing because of an arrest record, juvenile record or expunged/sealed record, they can show proof their record is a protected record. If they are still denied housing, they can file a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Charges can be filed in person, over the phone or via mail.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made clear in their guidance that arrest records may not be the basis of denying individuals the ability to live in subsidized housing, due to the disproportionate and discriminatory effects of arrest, conviction and incarceration on African American and Hispanic populations. This aligns Illinois law to federal guidance.

Housing as a Human Right means that everyone, no matter what happened in their past, deserves a home to build their future. It is our hope that, as a result of this legislation, individuals and their families will be able to protect their rights; access safe and affordable housing; and flourish in their communities.

RROCI is a coalition spearheaded by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Community Renewal Society, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. RROCI is committed to solutions driven with a community voice and believes that Illinois needs a fair system of justice that recognizes human dignity and that everyone deserves a meaningful future.