13-point Plan to Make Housing A Human Right

Last updated: December 19, 2014 – 11:02 AM

Chicago is a city of renters.  More than 50% of all its residents rent their homes. The majority of Chicago’s seniors, disabled, unemployed and low-wage workers live in rental housing. Housing stability is crucial to any efforts to stabilize our communities and our workforce. Thus rental housing must be a key element of any affordable housing plan. 

1. Institute Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

Mandate that landlord provide one of the following reasons to terminate a rental agreement.  (Failure to pay rent, tenant regularly does not comply with the rules of the rental agreement, landlord intends to occupy the unit, owner decides to sell a single family dwelling unit, or owner seeks to discontinue sharing with a tenant of the owner’s own housing unit.

2. Institute Moratorium on Demolition of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotels

Six month freeze on the demolition of SRO units so that the City can develop a long range plan.  

3. Preserve, rehabilitate, and lease-up all structurally sound public housing developments.

City affordable housing funds should only be invested in a public housing revitalization plan on the condition that it guarantees one-for-one replacement of all currently standing public housing units. 

4. Increase City Investment in Housing Trust Fund

Double the City’s investment in the Trust Fund. 

5. Fully implement and utilize Sweet Home Chicago Ordinance

Increase usage of TIF funds to support and maintain low and moderate income housing. 

6. Mandatory Inspection Program

        • Hire additional inspectors
        • Require all landlords to register and pay a $3per month per unit fee
        • Perform periodic inspections of Chicago rental units for health and safety issues. 

7. Extend the notification period for rent increases

            • Rent increases less than 5% – 30 days
            • Rent increases of 5 to 10% – 60 days
            • Rent increases of more than 10% – 90 days

8. Link rent increases in buildings with significant code violations to completion of repairs

  • Landlords with more than 10 building code violations would have to make substantial repairs before raising any tenant’s rent. The landlord would be able to raise rent once in substantial compliance.
  • Landlords could raise the rent only if it was put into an account that could only be used to make repairs. The landlord would also have to contribute an equal amount to that account and have a reasonable plan for completing repairs.
  • A fund should be established that could help landlords, particularly low and moderate landlords, make repairs. Possible sources of funds could be housing court fines.
  • If city funds are used for repairs, units must remain affordable to current renters for five years. 

9. Increase City incentives to build and maintain affordable units.

  • Reduce water bills for buildings with 30% of units affordable to low-income renters
  • Reduce cost of city services for low-income buildings.
  • Offer landlords $100/unit per month if they agree to keep 30 % of their units in that building affordable to low-income renters.
  • Priority for city-financed projects should go to those providing housing to low and very-low income. 

10. Institute relocation assistance for buildings being vacated through either court order or for major rehab.

  • In the case of court ordered vacation, the landlord immediately return each tenant’s security deposit, and pay every tenant two months rent upon vacation of premises for any court ordered vacation for relocation purposes.
  • Should a landlord be unable to immediately pay the relocation assistance in a, the City of Chicago will develop a fund by adding a fee to building permits and condo conversion permits to pay the tenants.
  • Landlords doing major rehab that requires the building to be vacated must give tenants 60 days notice of rental termination, return of the security deposit 30 days prior to vacating the premises and provide tenants with 2 months relocation assistance. 

 11. Enforce City lockout provisions

Train and require Chicago police officers to enforce City of Chicago provisions preventing lockouts.

 12. Establish a bed bug policy

Develop program that requires landlords to eradicate bed bugs. Use Housing Court fines to provide assistance to low-income landlords and disabled renters.

13. Make housing a human right

Chicago City Council needs to vote to declare housing as a human right.