Celebrating victory minutes after the affirmative vote by the County Board on May 8, 2013. From left to right: Betsy Shuman-Moore (Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights), John Bartlett (Metropolitan Tenants Organization), Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes, Brendan Saunders (Open Communities)
Open Communities thanks Cook County Board for furthering equal housing opportunity in suburbs
Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8) holders in Cook County, Illinois are now fully protected under fair housing law.
What does this mean? It means that voucher holders have a right to apply for apartments just like anyone else. Landlords in Cook County cannot disqualify anyone just because they have a voucher — just like they can’t deny the opportunity to apply based on color, race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, presence of children, sexual orieintation, or military discharge status.
Cook County has over 15,000 Housing Choice Voucher holders. One voucher holder at the packed Cook County Board meeting yesterday “exhorted” the Commissioners to vote “yes,” saying “this is about equal opportunity.” Another said that as returning veterans, people with disabilities, and students need that safety net to live in the community of their choice, preventing steering and denials by landlords is key.
Kudos to County Commissioners Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Robert Steele, and Larry Suffredin for their leadership, with the staunch support of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.
The vote at the County Board room on May 8, 2013, filled with passionate advocates and tenants sporting “Vote Yes for SOI” stickers, was close, with 9 “yes” votes. President Preckwinkle prefaced the vote by reiterating her strong support for affordable housing and urging the Board to approve this civil right measure.
The campaign was led from the grassroots by Open Communities and the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. Also central to this 10-year campaign have been Access Living, the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Housing Action Illinois, the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and the South Suburban Housing Center.
Cook County fair housing laws are enforced by the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.
Open Communities celebrates opening up of all our north suburban neighborhoods to tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers. We look forward to working with landlords, tenants, and municipalities to further inclusive and welcoming communities!