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

  1. Larry Southall says:

    I am researching this topic from out-of-state. I read through the Illinois Human Rights Act and can find no mention of “source of income” as a protected class. Could someone please clarify? Has “source of income” been declared a protected class at the state level in Illinois or not? If so, when?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      Source of income is not a protected class under the Illinois statute (see 775 ILCS 5/1-102(A)). The article I wrote and the change being debated deals specifically with the Cook County Ordinance.

  2. Remodeler says:

    The thing/debate about Source of Income is that these people (tenants) do not receive the money, – it is the landlord who does. That conflicts with the term “tenant’s income” definition as far as I remember, hence it cannot qualify for discrimination and being a protected class…

    • Richard Magnone says:

      That’s just it. The fair housing laws of Chicago specifically spell out Section 8 participation as being part of a protected class. The Cook County amendment on the table is proposing the same thing.

  3. Linda Porter says:

    If I have one section 8 tenant in my building do I have to rent to another section 8 tenant.

    • Richard Magnone says:

      No landlord in Chicago or Cook County can discriminate based upon a tenant’s participation in the Section 8 program.