Cook County proposes adding “Section 8” participants to Fair Housing protected classes

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The housing provisions of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance (Ordinance No. 93-0-13) are the county equivalent to the federal Fair Housing law.  Currently, the Cook County law prohibits discrimination in housing transactions (for those landlords covered by the law) for sixteen protected classes.  These are the fourteen protected classes from the Illinois Human Rights Act (race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, military discharge status, source of income, housing status) plus two additional classes (housing status and source of income).  Although the Cook County ordinance includes source of income, it expressly excludes participation in a housing choice program (ie. Section 8).  Therefore, as of today, Cook County landlords may discriminate based upon a prospective tenant’s participation in Section 8.

At 10 am today (June 19, 2012), the Cook County Board will be presented with a proposal from Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garciato to amend the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance to add Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to the “sources of income” protections in Cook County.  This will prevent landlords in Cook County (outside of Chicago which already protects against discrimination based on participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program) from refusing to rent to tenants who participate in Section 8.

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