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
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.
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.”
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.
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- firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-292-4980 ext 236
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.
Proposal to Amend the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance:
Preventing Source of Income Discrimination
• 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 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.
Supporters of Source Income Protection for Section 8 Voucher Holders:
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
Citizen Action Illinois
Connections for the Homeless
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
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
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
Discrimination against housing voucher holders is wrong – just like any other form of discrimination. Please take a minute to sign our petition, and then call your commissioner to say: “I support source of income protections for Section 8 voucher holders”
If you don’t know your Cook County commissioner, you can call the cook county commissioners at 847-729-9300 to find out. PLEASE CALL TODAY!
“Obama’s proposed hike to minimum rent for HUD-assisted families could put poorest in the street”
By YanaKunichoff – March 27 2012 – Community Renewal Society
A proposal in the 2013 presidential budget to raise the minimum rent in public housing could put the poorest families at risk of ending up on the street, say advocates.
And what may be most surprising for some people, Pres. Obama’s proposed hike is more than what’s being asked for by the Republicans. Plus, it pitted two local pols against each other over this issue in Washington.
John Bartlett, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Metropolitan Tenants Organization called the proposed increase, which would raise the minimum rent to $75 a month from $50 for all households assisted by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, “horrible.
“People can’t get back on their feet if they don’t have a home, and some of them will lose their home because of this,” said Barlett.
$75 may not sound like much, especially in Cook County, where the average price is $853 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that 19,602 Illinois families in project-based Section 8 housing, supportive housing and those using housing choice vouchers administered by HUD would be negatively impacted by the rent increase.
What’s more, Illinois would be hit harder than the national average: 14.11 percent of households relying on rent assistance here would face an increase, compared to 12.4 percent of households nationally.
“There has been a lot of pressure on discretionary programs in general,” said Barbara Sard, author of the Center’s report on the cuts. “All of the low-income housing programs are part of the discretionary side of the budget.”
The problems of the recession on low-income people have been compounded by cuts to social programs, which have been accelerating since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the November 2010 election, Sard added.
The proposal to raise the minimum rent in Section 8 housing originally came from the House, which proposed in October 2011 to raise the rent to 12 percent of the local Fair Market Rent, or to $69.45 a month and index it for inflation.
The leader of this push in the House was Republican Rep. Judy Biggert, Chair of the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, from the 13thCongressional District of Illinois, which is in the Southwestern suburbs. And one of the most vocal opponents of the bill was Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez from the 4th Congressional District west of downtown Chicago.
“Raising rents for the poorest of the poor. I just don’t know how this makes sense,” said Rep. Guttierrez, in a February discussion of the rent increase. He had offered an amendment in February to remove the provision from the budget, which he later withdrew.
In response, Rep. Biggert told the subcommittee that increasing the minimum rent for rent-assistance housing would lower the overall cost of the program and allow more people to receive help.
In the end, the difference between the proposal coming from Rep. Biggert–$69.45–and the increase proposed by President Obama–$75–was minimal.
But Sard noted that “for the first time ever the administration proposed an increase in a minimum rent to an even higher level than the Republicans had proposed.”
And when looking at assistance for the “very, very poor,” every penny counts, she said.
“Congress and the president have a lot of discretion as to picking winners and losers,” in the budget cuts, said Sard, and “housing programs are only a small side of the overall budget.”
The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that, along with raising the minimum rent, the 2013 fiscal year budget is “at least $1.7 billion below the amount needed to fully renew rental assistance provided this year under HUD’s three major rental assistance programs.”
Barlett, from the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, sees the proposed raise in the minimum rent as part of a larger attack on the poor.
“It’s more of a tax increase on the poor instead of taxing the billionaires.”
The Cook County Human Rights Ordinance protects individuals from discrimination based on their income (such as child support, social security) however, it specifically does not include protections for people with Section 8 housing vouchers.
With the ordinance as it stands, housing providers can and do deny qualified households solely because they have a Section 8 voucher. Studies have proven that housing providers refuse to rent to voucher holders as a pretext for other types of illegal discrimination based on race, familial status, and disability.
MTO supports the proposed ordinance amendment that would include protection for individuals with Section 8 vouchers. Property owners would 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 across the country have laws in place that protect individuals from discrimination based on using Housing Choice vouchers.
Voucher holders are some of the most scrutinized tenants and have to meet the rigorous 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.
For more reading, check out this research article which found no evidence that voucher holder households increase crime in neighborhoods.
Applications will be accepted from June 14, 2010 to July 9, 2010. Of all applications received, CHA will randomly pull 40,000 names from the list. These 40,000 applicants will then be placed on the Family Wait List. If you are put on the Family Wait List, you will be contacted when a subsidized unit is available. If you are eligible to recieve the subsidy, you will then be able to move into an apartment and your rent will be affordable based on your income.
We all know that affordable housing is hard to find, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to get on the list.
For more information about eligibility, applying, or CHA guidelines, go to CHAwaitlist.org