Attorney and Director, Fair Housing and Hate Crime Projects

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2 Betsy Shuman-Moore Attorney and Director, Fair Housing and Hate Crime Projects The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights seeks to eliminate discrimination and poverty by providing free legal services to people with civil rights problems and nonprofit organizations with transactional issues. Main projects: Fair Housing Hate Crime Employment Opportunity Voting Rights Educational Equity TLP - Community Development, Nonprofit and Small Business Assistance Settlement Assistance Project

3 What Does the CLC s Fair Housing Project Do? Intake Investigation, including testing Legal Representation Advocacy, including for source of income amendment to the Cook County Human Rights Act Outreach and training

4 Source of Income Under the Chicago and Cook County Fair Housing Ordinances, it is illegal to refuse to rent or otherwise discriminate against a person in housing because of their source of income. These laws define source of income as the lawful manner by which a person supports oneself and his or her dependents.

5 Sources of Income Applies to all forms of government or legally provided income paid to individuals and families including: Employer paycheck Child support Social security or disability payments, and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

6 States, Counties, Cities that outlaw SOI discrimination States: California, Connecticut, Dist. of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin (not Illinois) Illinois towns & cities: Chicago (since 1988), Harwood Heights, Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Urbana, and Wheeling Illinois county: Cook (2013) Not federal Fair Housing Act

7 Cook County 1993 Human Rights Ordinance included source of income protection but excluded Section 8 (Housing Choice Voucher) Coalition successfully advocated for removal of that exemption; Cook County Board of Commissioners amendment became effective August 2013 By making this change, Cook County Affirmatively Furthered Fair Housing

8 Why Source of Income Protection is Needed Chicago is one of the most racially segregated areas in the country

9 The Housing Choice Voucher Program Largest subsidized housing program in the U.S. About 53,000 households (13,000 in suburban Cook County and 40,000 in Chicago) with housing vouchers are in Cook County It is particularly hard for people with disabilities, families with children, and senior citizens to access affordable housing without rental assistance. In Cook County, close to 40% of the households that use Housing Choice Vouchers are elderly, disabled or both.

10 Benefits of Vouchers Enable participants to rent quality housing in the private market. Allow tenants to live in neighborhoods and towns previously inaccessible to them, while the owners are paid fair rent Great potential to break down segregation based on race, ethnicity, disability, and economic status, and to affirmatively further fair housing

11 Benefits to Landlords Guaranteed rents from housing authorities Voucher holders are screened and must meet rigorous admission criteria Voucher holders are good tenants who must follow program requirements to continue receiving subsidy

12 Landlords may Screen tenants by: Getting landlord references, Doing home visits, and Verifying income Charge whatever rent the market will bear They must treat all tenants and applicants equally

13 Disparate Impact Fair housing laws make illegal not only policies and practices intended to discriminate, but also policies and practices that are neutral on their faces but have discriminatory effects, or a disparate impact. Examples of neutral policies with discriminatory effects include: landlords unreasonably limiting occupancy of apartments of any size, to, for example, three persons per unit; landlords placing their (predominantly African- American) Housing Choice Voucher tenants in their inferior buildings in neighborhoods with relatively fewer amenities.

14 No Size Exemptions! The Chicago and Cook County ordinances have no exemptions, so all buildings, of all sizes, are covered

15 Remedies for Complainants and Deadline Compensatory damages Punitive damages (in court) Civil penalties (in agencies) Injunctive relief order or agreement to do or stop doing some act. Examples: Fair housing training Reporting Monitoring Deadline: Must file complaints within 180 days of violation

16 Landlords and Agents May Not Refuse to rent or sell Refuse to cooperate with administrative requirements Make written communications expressing limitations Because of source of income.

17 Chicago case examples of refusals to rent to voucher holders Rankin v N. Sheridan, Inc., DLG Management, CCHR No. 08-H-49 Awarded $850 out-of-pocket damages, $1,500 emotional distress damages, and $3,000 punitive damages. Respondents were fined $1500 each, and were ordered to post non-discrimination notices and ads Sercye v. Reppen and Wilson, CCHR No. 08-H-42 Awarded $15,000 in emotional distress damages & fines of $1000. Referred the case to the City to report the finding against the Respondent, a licensed real estate broker Draft v. Jercich, CCHR No. 05-H-20 Awarded $5,000 emotional distress damages and $500 fine

18 Landlords and agents also may not Treat voucher holder tenants differently price, terms, conditions or privileges Steer or provide inferior service Chicago Lawyers Committee case alleged that landlord steered voucher holders to its inferior buildings, which it poorly maintained. Resulted in a good settlement including damages, attorneys fees, and fair housing training

19 Parker and Pierce v. New Jerusalem Christian Development Corp. CLC filed complaints for two clients against developers, who refused to complete sales to buyers in the Choose to Own program, which allows qualified families to use their Housing Choice Vouchers for mortgage payments for homes instead of rent. Chicago Commission found that these acts violated the Fair Housing Ordinance and ordered the Respondents to pay $40,000 emotional distress damages and $70,000 in punitive damages, a total of $110,000. Commission also ordered the respondent to pay fines, attorneys fees and costs. (CCHR nos. 07-H-12 & 07-H-13)

20 Invalid Defenses The following defenses of owners have been found to be invalid in HCV source of income discrimination cases: Lack of familiarity with the program Burdensome program requirements Insufficient income, such as applicants failing to meet a requirement of income 3X rent; voucher and tenant contribution will be sufficient

21 Source of Income Discrimination Still Widespread

22 CHA Fair Housing Testing Project Chicago Lawyers Committee, with South Suburban Housing Center, Access Living, HOPE Fair Housing Center conducted 446 tests for the CHA in 2010 and Results showed widespread discrimination: Landlords already participating in the HCV program discriminated against tenants based on race 59% of the time, most commonly by steering them to other buildings or neighborhoods. Landlords not participating in the CHA program in opportunity areas discriminated against white testers with vouchers 55% of the time; in 39% of the tests, landlords directly refused to rent to them. More than half (53%) of landlords who told white testers that they accepted vouchers discriminated against African American testers who said they had vouchers. More testing needed

23 Recommended Steps to AFFH I Recruit landlords; recognize excellent landlords Streamline procedures Offer exception (higher) rents in opportunity areas with high housing costs Increase funding of mobility programs, such as Housing Choice Partners

24 Recommended Steps to AFFH II Increase landlord and tenant outreach and education Increase affirmative marketing of opportunity neighborhoods/towns to tenants and buyers Bring enforcement actions against discriminating landlords Conduct fair housing testing regularly Amend laws to prohibit source of income discrimination; include full array of prohibited acts and remedies Human rights/relations enforcement agencies: fully staff and streamline processes

25 Legal or Illegal? The Slombas have a Housing Choice Voucher, and they find a house to rent. The owner agrees to rent the house and completes the section 8 paperwork, but misses four appointments with the CHA inspectors because he is too busy to deal with it.

26 This presentation is for EDUCATIONAL purposes ONLY! Always consult an attorney if you need legal advice! Betsy Shuman-Moore Attorney and Director, Fair Housing and Hate Crime Projects Danielle McCain and Jessica Schneider Fair Housing Project Staff Attorneys

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