The Fight for Human Rights is not on Winter Vacation

image3While many of us were revving up for the holidays, other Chicago residents were standing up against violations of civil and human rights across our city. On December 21, 2016 human rights organizers held a vigil in Ravenswood in front of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s home.

Coffins, carnations, and candles symbolized the deaths of affordable housing, shelters, mental wellness clinics, health resources, school closings and the 700+ humans whose lives were ended by gun violence, including unjust fatal police shootings. Demonstrators expressed that community violence is not a stand alone issue, instead it is interconnected to the institutional violence and oppression of our city’s historically racist, classist, and patriarchal politics and policies.

In the South Loop, public funds are currently being used to construct an arena for a private institution- DePaul University’s new athletic arena. Public lands which were once public housing sites like the Ida B. Wells housing complex in Bronzeville is now home to Mariano’s, after CHA and the city broke the promise they made to taxpayers and residents to rebuild the public housing they tore down during the Plan for Transformation (deconstruction of Chicago’s housing projects).

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 2.47.31 PM

Housing is fundamental to the development of healthy people, healthy families, and healthy communities. Housing is a HUMAN RIGHT! We DEMAND a stop to the death of affordable housing and the violent policies sustaining race and class divides and deepening homelessness, police brutality and state sanctioned violence, community violence, inadequate education, and economic disenfranchisement. We must treat housing as a human right, not a commodity! It’s time to pass the #KeepingThePromise Ordinance and protect public housing, not destroy it! Join us in the fight.
Authored by: Aisha Truss-Miller and Angelica Ugarte

Mientras muchos de nosotros nos estamos preparando  para las festividades, muchos residentes de Chicago están alzándose en contra  de la  violación  de los derechos humanos y civiles  que se practican a lo largo y ancho de nuestra ciudad. Este 21 de diciembre del 2016, organizadores de derechos humanos, realizaron una vigilia en el barrio de Ravenswood en frente del hogar del Alcalde de la ciudad de Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel.

Ataúdes, claveles y velas fueron los símbolos para representar no solo la muerte de viviendas accesibles, sino también la muerte de las clínicas de salud mental, recursos de salud, a clausura de escuelas públicas, y las 700 vidas humanas  cuyas vidas fueron cortadas producto de la violencia con armas de fuego, incluyendo los disparos fatales  perpetrados por  la policía, que se sospecha eran injustificados. Los manifestantes  afirmaron  que la violencia en la comunidad no es un problema por si solo, sino que está vinculado con la violencia institucional y la opresión de parte de nuestra ciudad que  históricamente ha practicado políticas y legislaciones racistas, clasistas y patriarcales.

En el “South  Loop” fondos públicos están siendo  utilizados para subsidiar la construcción de un estadio nuevo para una institución privada, la Universidad de Depaul. Terrenos públicos que alguna vez  fueron  sitios utilizados para viviendas públicas como por ejemplo el Complejo Habitacional Ida B. Wells en Bronzeville ahora  está ubicado  un supermercado Mariano, debido a que CHA y la ciudad rompieron  la  promesa que  hicieran  a los contribuyentes y a los residentes a través del Plan de Transformación (la demolición de los proyectos de vivienda de Chicago ) de reconstruir cierta cantidad de viviendas públicas y  viviendas  accesibles.

El derecho a una vivienda es fundamental para el desarrollo no solo de personas saludables sino que también de hogares saludables y comunidades saludables. El derecho a una vivienda es un DERECHO HUMANO Nosotros Exigimos un cese a la muerte de viviendas accesibles y a legislaciones  violentas  que mantienen la división de raza y clase aumentando  el número de personas indigentes, la brutalidad policial, la violencia autorizada por el estado, la violencia en la comunidad, la educación deficiente y la privación a los derechos económicos

HACC To Open First Family Wait List Since 2009

The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) will begin accepting pre-applications for the Ford Heights public housing wait list for (2) two, (3) three, (4) four, and (5) bedroom units at the following Family Development:

Vera L. Yates

1055 Berkeley

Ford Heights, IL 60411


The Pre-Applications will be made available on February, 9th. The HACC will accept up to 100 wait list pre-applications per each bedroom size unit. Click below to view qualifications, application locations and directions on how to apply. 



If you are anyone is your household is a person with a disability and requires a specific accommodation or seeks assistance with the completion of the pre-application, please contact the housing authority via the methods listed in the instructions, or call (312) 542-4786.
If you are currently experiencing issues in your apartment, click below to document and report them using

Senate Releases Funding Numbers for Homeless Prevention Programs

Action-Alert21Yesterday, the Senate HUD funding Subcommittee released and voted on its FY 2015 legislation. The Subcommittee’s proposed legislation includes only a $45 million increase for HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, which is $255 million below the amount requested by the President. This funding level would very likely not provide enough funding to make any expansion to programs and would not provide any additional funding for new projects!

Fortunately, the process is far from complete and we have further opportunities to encourage Members to provide additional funding for homelessness-prevention programs in FY 2015. Therefore, it is extremely important that we begin and maintain a drumbeat that reminds Members of Congress that this is the year!

Here’s What You Can Do:

1. Call your senators and representatives!

a. Ask to speak to the person who handles appropriations or housing issues. We can help you get this information, or you can call the congressional switchboard at 202.224.3121.

2. Tell the staff person their boss MUST provide more funding for McKinney in FY 2015!

a. Tell them we must continue making progress on chronic homelessness and need $2.405 billion in order to meet our goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2016.

We have an opportunity to educate and make an impact. Please seize this opportunity moving forward and work with your Members of Congress – all of them, from both sides of the aisle – to prioritize ending homelessness!

Report challenges tie between housing vouchers, crime: Chicago Tribune


Renters’ use of housing choice vouchers, more commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, long has worried communities that the arrival of voucher-holding tenants in a neighborhood will lead to crime and, eventually, lower property values.

That’s not true, says a new policy brief by researchers who studied crime patterns and voucher use in Chicago and nine other large cities over a number of years.

Read more here.

Chicago Tribune – March 29, 2013

Clergy Support Source of Income Campaign

MTO, Access Living and Progress Center Illinois held a Prayer Breakfast regarding the Source of Income amendment on January 15,  2013 at Pearl’s Place in Chicago.  Over forty pastors and community leaders from across the city and suburbs were in attendance to hear from Housing Choice Voucher holders about experiences with discrimination based on their income.

Currently, the City of Chicago already prohibits landlords from discriminating against voucher holders.  In the suburbs of Cook County, landlords can and do deny people housing solely because they have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.  The Source of Income amendment is a protection that would require landlords to consider renting to Housing Choice Voucher holders.  It would not force a landlord to participate in the program if the tenant does not meet typical requirements (i.e. poor credit rating, bad landlord reference).  The amendment would give people with vouchers the equal opportunity to housing.

On Thursday January 24, 2013 from 2-4 pm at Progress Center Blue Island, MTO, Access Living and Progress Center IL invite you to attend a Town Hall meeting discussing housing discrimination.  Come out and share your experiences with us, and help end housing discrimination and segregation.  If you believe in equal opportunity, join us and show your support.  For more information/transportation call us at 773-292-4980 ext. 224.


Renters Protest Oak Park’s Largest Landlord

On Thursday, December 13, 2012, more than 40 tenants and advocates from across Cook County picketed Oak Park Apartments’ headquarters on Chicago Avenue to protest the company’s refusal to accept Housing Choice Vouchers.  While it may be legal in Cook County suburbs to refuse to rent to Housing Choice Voucher holders, it is not morally right.

According to one Housing Choice Voucher holder that lives in Oak Park, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, “I have been denied occupancy in countless properties including Oak Park Apartments, just because I have a voucher.  This is just not fair.  I pay my rent yet I cannot live in certain buildings!”

Adam Ballard of Access Living and a voucher holder stated, “Many people with disabilities rely on vouchers for their housing.  We want Oak Park Apartments and Cook County to end this legalized discrimination.   All we are asking is to be treated like anyone else.”

Currently, the City of Chicago forbids landlords to discriminate against voucher holders.  There is no such prohibition in Cook County suburbs.  Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, is trying to change that and has introduced legislation that would amend the County’s Human Rights Ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against Housing Choice Voucher holders.

After the picket, tenants went to Cook County Commissioner Earlene Collins’ office.  The group wanted to know why Commissioner Collins had not signed on as a supporter of the amendment.  While the Commissioner was away at the time, the group was promised a meeting with the Commissioner.

According to Shirley Johnson, Organizing Director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, “Section 8, Housing Choice Voucher Holders are stereotyped and therefore often forced to live in high crime, low opportunity communities.  The recent presidential election proved that it is a “new America” where diversity rules. A rental policy that refuses to rent to voucher holders is blatant discrimination and should be outlawed, especially in today’s modern society.”

Oak Park Apartments claims to offer “the largest selection of well-maintained apartments perfect for those who want to experience Oak Park’s architectural character, its excellent school system and vibrant and diverse village feel.”  However, they intentionally exclude Housing Choice Voucher holders from these opportunities.

Access Living, Progress Center and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization organized the protest.  The groups promised to return.  According to Adam Ballard of Access Living, “The fight for our rights has just begun.”

Rally at City Hall Against Proposed Demolition of 1,800 CHA Units

On Friday, October 12th, Chicagoans gathered at City Hall to protest the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) proposed demolition of 1800 public housing units. Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s tenant leaders in conjunction with the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) led the charge against the proposed cuts.

“We need these units leased up not knocked down,” said Executive Director of People for Community Recovery and Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) member, Cheryl Johnson. Ms. Johnson who is a resident of Altgeld Gardens, expressed concern about the more than 600 units slated for demolition at Altgeld Gardens. “This is about our future and ability to stay in our community,” said Johnson. “If they knock these units down, what’s to stop CHA from knocking the rest of our community down.”

After hearing from the hundreds of tenants outside the Mayor’s office on the 5th floor, staff for Mayor Emanuel’s office agreed to meet with coalition representatives to discuss the proposals for demolition. Organizers are hopeful the Mayor will intervene to stop the demolitions.

“The CHA exists for only one reason and that is to provide affordable housing to low-income residents,” said Leah Levinger, coordinator of the Chicago Housing Initiative. “The CHI coalition will continue to raise public awareness around the issue of leasing these units out,” said Levinger. “We are asking that Mayor Emanuel intervene to set the CHA back on track.”

According to the CHI, over 60,000 people are on CHA’s waiting list. This, in a time when Chicagoan’s incomes are down as much as 10%, and local rental rates have – over the past few years – increased by 14%. MTO supports CHI’s efforts to push CHA to lease out more public housing units and opposes the proposed demolition.

For more information or to get involved in this campaign contact MTO community organizer Noah Moscowitz at 773.292.4980 ext 236 or at

“No 8s: Should Cook County outlaw discrimination against Section 8 Voucher Holders?” Chicago Muckrakers article

Gale Riley had lived at 927 S. Wesley Ave. in Oak Park for three years when the new management company sent her a notice saying her lease wouldn’t be renewed.

Riley checked with other tenants in the building and found that everyone who was being asked to leave had one thing in common: they all paid their rent through a housing choice voucher.

Read more


If you support the amendment, sign the petition!

Learn more about the campaign

Get the facts:  Source of Income Protections fact sheet

Call the Cook County Commissioners – Tell them don’t discriminate against Section 8 vouchers!

(Phone numbers are available on the flyer below)

To get involved in the campaign, please contact MTO Organizer Noah Moscowitz- or 773-292-4980 ext 236


Tenants Lead the Fight Against Discrimination

Low-income tenants throughout the city are fighting to end discrimination against voucher holders in suburban Cook County.  One tenant leader, Mr. Green wages an inspiring daily campaign from his wheelchair.  Mr. Green has lived at 1440 S. Indiana for about three years.  Residents of the building turn to Mr. Green to act as a liaison between them and the management.  His commitment to improving the quality of life for the tenants of his building led him to become a member of MTO.  Mr. Green not only works in his building, but also is a regular attendee of the monthly meetings of the Tenants Congress.  This group is leading the Source of Income campaign.

In Chicago, it is against the law to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders.  However, in the suburbs, no such law applies.  The Source of Income Campaign is fighting to pass a law that will also make it illegal to discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders in suburban Cook County.  Although Mr. Green has no plans of moving out of Chicago any time soon, he has made this campaign his fight.  His advocacy for this campaign stems from his belief that people shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate regardless of your age, gender, abilities or race, or simply because you use a voucher.  His commitment to this campaign has moved him to spend several hours a week by the train station speaking to fellow Chicagoans about this issue and asking them support their suburban neighbors by signing the petition and calling the Cook County Commissioners to support the ordinance.

If you get off at the red line Roosevelt stop, Mr. Green may ask you to sign the petition to stop the discrimination in the suburbs.  Make sure to sign it, and ask Mr. Green how you can become more involved.

Get the Facts: Section 8 Protections Fact Sheets

Proposal to Amend the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance:
Preventing Source of Income Discrimination

The Problem:

• The Cook County Human Rights Ordinance (CCHRO) currently protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of a person’s source of income (i.e., child support, social security). The CCHRO however specifically exempts from protection persons with “Section 8” Housing Choice Vouchers. Presently housing providers can and do deny qualified households solely because they have a Housing Choice Voucher. Studies have shown that housing providers often refuse to rent to voucher holders as a pretext for other types of illegal discrimination such as race, familial status, and disability.

The Solution:

• The proposed ordinance amendment would include in the protection against source of income discrimination persons with Housing Choice Vouchers. The amendment would not force property owners to rent any or all of their units to any households using Housing Choice Vouchers. Property owners will still have the right to screen applicants.

• The City of Chicago and six other municipalities in Illinois, ten states, the District of Columbia, and ten counties around the country have laws that protect individuals from discrimination based upon the use of a Housing Choice Voucher.

• Voucher holders are some of the most scrutinized tenants and must meet the rigorous admission criteria of the voucher administrator as well as comply with lease provisions. Nearly 40% of voucher recipients are employed and more than 30% are seniors or persons with disabilities. There is absolutely no evidence that persons who use Housing Choice Vouchers to make their housing affordable perpetuate or increase crime in communities.

• Landlord participation in the voucher program is not unduly burdensome. Landlords only have to complete three simple forms. Payments made by the housing authority are made electronically. Units must pass a Housing Quality Standards inspection. Voucher recipients have to complete most of the paperwork.

• By supporting this amendment to the CCHRO, the last remaining type of source of income discrimination in Cook County can finally end.


SOI Talking Points Final

HACC Reply to Lincoln Property Company

Supporters of Source Income Protection for Section 8 Voucher Holders:

Access Living
Bethel New Life
Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation
Chicago Anti Eviction League
Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Chicago Housing Authority
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Chicago Urban League
Claretian Associates
Citizen Action Illinois
Connections for the Homeless
Evanston NAACP
Ford Heights Community Service Organization
Healthcare Alternative Systems (HAS)
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
HOPE Fair Housing Center
Housing Action Illinois
Housing Authority of the County of Cook
Housing Choice Partners
Housing Opportunity Development Corporation
Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs
Independent Voters of Illinois/ Independent Precinct Organization
Jane Addams Senior Caucus
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jobs with Justice
John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Legal Clinic
Kingdom Community
La Casa Norte
Lakeside Community Development Corporation
Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA)
Latino Policy Forum
Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing
League of Women Voters of Cook County
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Metropolitan Family Services
Metropolitan Tenants Organization
National Fair Housing Alliance
New Directions for Change
Northwest Side Housing Center
Progress Center for Independent Living
Protestants for the Common Good
Respond Now
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
SEIU Local 73
South Suburban Housing Center
South Suburban PADS
Spanish Coalition for Housing
Supportive Housing Providers Association
Target Area Development Corporation
United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations
West Suburban PADS
Woodstock Institute