Cook County Responds to Glenview Landlord Ordinance Concerns

Last updated: October 4, 2013 – 6:38 AM

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle this week responded to a recent letter submitted by Open Communities, regarding Glenview’s recent landlord ordinance allowing landlords to deny rent to Section 8 applicants. Read the full letter below.

  OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF COOK COUNTY
118 NORTH CLARK STREET
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60602
(31 2) 603-6400
TOO (312) 603-5255
TONI PRECKWINKl.E
PRESIDENT

September 19,2013

Gail Schechter, Executive Director
Open Communities
614 Lincoln Avenue
Winnetka, Illinois 60093-2308
RE: Cook County’s Efforts to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Dear Ms. Schechter:

I am in receipt of your letter dated August 27, 2013 concerning the Village of Glenview’s
(“Glenview”) new housing policy, which seeks to deprive its residents of the source of income protections
afforded by Cook County’s human rights ordinance. Glenview’s new policy allows landlords to
arbitrarily deny housing to individuals and families that have legitimate sources of income. This recent
position undertaken by Glenview directly contradicts a growing national trend among local government
entities to remove barriers to integration and economic opportunity, and it interferes with Cook County’s
efforts to affirmatively further fair housing.

It is possible that Glenview did not have the wealth of information that Cook County had at its
disposal when the time came to make a decision. These are the facts:

• The Appellate Court of Illinois has held that housing choice vouchers are a legitimate source of
income;

• The existing laws of Cook County, the City of Chicago, and at least six other municipalities in the
State of Illinois protect housing choice voucher holders from discrimination;

• Studies have repeatedly found that source of income is used as a proxy for other forms of illegal
discrimination based on race, familial status, disability, and age; while withdrawing from the
program may appear to be a neutral act, it disproportionately affects a protected class;

• During these tough economic times, it is undisputed that increasing rental rates are outpacing
many families’ incomes, and the demand for affordable housing far exceeds the supply;

• Landlords’ refusal to rent to persons with housing choice vouchers reduces the pool of available
rental units by nearly 70%;

• The persons most often denied housing as a result of source of income discrimination are families
with children, persons with disabilities, and seniors;

• Housing choice is directly linked to quality of life; one’s access to employment, education,
healthcare, transportation, and even healthy food is largely determined by the place where one
lives.

As the President of Cook County, I am committed to ensuring that every resident has fair and
equal access to housing opportunity. That is why I supported the decision by the Cook County Board of
Commissioners to affirmatively further fair housing by extending source of income protection to tenants
and residents utilizing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This decision was the result of extensive
research and deliberation. We engaged community advocates, residents, and realtors, and addressed all
relevant concerns prior to the change. Moreover, Cook County delayed the effective date of the
ordinance amendment for 90 days to allow the Housing Authority of Cook County (“HACC”) to reach
out to landlords and residents and inform them of the change in law as well as provide information
regarding vouchers, enrollment, inspection time, support and reliability of payments.

While Cook County delayed the effective date of the ordinance amendment for informational
purposes, it was not anticipated that a municipality would utilize this time frame to impede progress in
fair housing initiatives. However, it remains to be seen whether the “fair housing” ordinance enacted by
Glenview will, in fact, impede that progress.

To the extent that Glenview purports to be exercising its home rule authority, the State of Illinois
has explicitly limited its exercise in the fair housing context. Illinois’ Human Rights Act authorizes any
municipality or county to prohibit broader or different categories of discrimination, but it provides that
any ordinance, resolution, rule or regulation which prohibits, restricts, narrows or limits the housing
choice of any person shall be void and unenforceable. See 775 ILCS 5/7-108.

Cook County encourages individuals and families who believe they have been victims of illegal
housing discrimination based on source of income and/or any other protected class to continue to file
claims with Cook County’s Human Rights Commission. Cook County plans to engage in efforts to
further evaluate how Glenview’s ordinance impacts fair housing progress and whether the ordinance
results in a decrease in the use of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers in Glenview. Glenview’s actions
directly negate its responsibility to affirmatively further fair housing and I encourage Glenview to amend
their ordinance to mirror the source of income provisions passed by Cook County and serve as a partner
in protecting the human rights of all Cook County residents.

Sincerely,

Toni Preckwinkle
President, Cook County Board of Commissioners

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