Housing as a Human Right
Everyone deserves a place to call home.
Yet, millions of people in Illinois are challenged to find safe and habitable housing in their community because of their criminal record. Nationally, four in five survey respondents from a study involving 14 states, including Illinois, were either ineligible for or denied housing because of their own or a loved one’s criminal history.
In Illinois, landlords can refuse to rent to prospective tenants solely based on a record of arrest, even if the tenant has never been convicted of a crime.
If someone is arrested, but never convicted of a crime, why should they be denied housing? Housing is a human right.
Landlords can also deny housing to individuals for records that should not be considered. This includes records the court has ordered expunged or sealed from public view, as well as records protected under the Juvenile Court Act.
If someone has a record from their youth or a record that has been expunged or sealed, why should they be denied housing? Housing is a human right.
Criminal background checks often contain inaccurate or outdated information. For homeseekers, inaccurate background checks can be devastating and can even result in homelessness. This impact extends to families of individuals with records, who also suffer the consequences of housing discrimination.
If someone has an inaccurate record, why should their family be denied housing? Housing is a human right.
In 2017, our Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois* led the passage of the largest expansion of sealing records in the country. But, people are still challenged to access housing even after going through the long process of successfully petitioning the court to seal their record. Under the current law, individuals have no recourse against bad information, including sealed records, appearing on a background check.
This year RROCI is pushing for changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act to set standards that landlords cannot just use whatever they get on a background check as a reason for denial — they need to take a closer look for accuracy.
SB 1780 (House Floor Amendment 3), Housing as a Human Right creates a civil rights violation under the Illinois Human Rights Act to refuse to sell, rent or otherwise make housing unavailable to any buyer or renter based on:
An arrest not leading to a finding of guilt;
A juvenile record; or
A criminal history record ordered expunged, sealed or impounded.
Currently, in the Illinois Human Rights Act, you cannot use these types of records in an employment decision. SB 1780 (HFA 3) carries over the same protections to the housing portion of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
Take action now: urge your legislators to support SB 1780 (HFA 3), Housing as a Human Right by sending an email now. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Curtis Tarver, II and Sen. Omar Aquino, will be considered by legislators before the Illinois General Assembly adjourns on May 31, 2019.
People are more than their records. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be considered as an individual. People with records and their families, like everyone else, deserve a home to build a future. You have the ability to make a difference by taking action today. Don't delay!
*SB 1780 (HFA 3) is an initiative of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois. RROCI is a coalition of directly impacted community leaders, organizers and policy advocates from Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Community Renewal Society and Heartland Alliance.