As part of JCUA’s support of the campaign to protect the rights of affordable housing voucher holders in Cook County, JCUA’s Rabbi Ali Abrams spoke at a Town Hall meeting on this issue on January 24, 2013. JCUA is committed to the struggle to ensure access to secure, decent, affordable housing in vibrant communities for all.
by Lauren Goldstein
Organizing and Advocacy Intern, JCUA
Today, in Chicago, we are fortunate enough that our city prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of a person’s source of income. Today, in Chicago, regardless of how an individual earns an income, they can use that income for housing. Our neighbors in Cook County outside of Chicago do not enjoy safeguards against discrimination.
The Cook County Human Rights Ordinance currently protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of a person’s source of income. HOWEVER, it specifically exempts people who hold Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. This means that a Cook County resident holding a Housing Choice Voucher may still be denied housing by a housing provider/landlord.
Unfortunately, we have seen that this is happening far too regularly in Cook County outside of Chicago, as many housing providers are refusing to rent to qualified vouvher-holding residents. This discrimination has become a proxy for other types of illegal discrimination based on race, familial status, and disability.
As a partner in the Source of Income Campaign, JCUA has and continues to fight for a just amendment to this ordinance so that no Cook County residents may be denied housing due only to them being Housing Choice Voucher holders.
The proposed amendment will include persons with Housing Choice Vouchers in the protection against source of income discrimination. No landlord will be forced to rent households to those using vouchers, as they will still be permitted to screen applicants; however, no landlord will be permitted to deny housing to a voucher holder solely because the would-be tenant holds a voucher. Should this amendment pass, Cook County will join Chicago, 6 other municipalities in Illinois, ten states, ten counties, and Washington D.C. in the barring of discrimination based upon the use of a Housing Choice Voucher.
JCUA strongly believes that we must not stand idly by and allow this discrimination to continue. Voucher holders are already highly scrutinized by the voucher administrator. 40% of voucher holders are employed, and over 30% of voucher holders are older adults or persons with disabilities. This is a fight to provide tenants with vouchers access to secure, decent, affordable housing in vibrant communities of their choice.
In 2012, JCUA sent a letter to all Cook County commissioners showing our support of the amendment to the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance to include Housing Choice Vouchers as a protected source of income.
Last week, on January 24, 2013, a Town Hall Meeting was convened on Housing Discrimination and Segregation, where Rabbi Ali Abrams spoke on behalf of JCUA as an advocate and supporter.
With your help, JCUA will continue the effort to end this legalized form of discrimination in Cook County.