By: Todd Shields, Pioneer Press
Glenview’s new housing ordinance protects Section 8 voucher holders from discrimination.
On a second vote, Glenview trustees formally amended a village ordinance March 3 that previously did not require landlords to accept Section 8 housing vouchers.
The binding vote mirrored a 5-1 tally on Feb. 17, when they first reviewed the controversial issue that arose in late summer 2013.
Several residents and group representatives spoke before Tuesday’s vote.
Much opposition came from those supporting property rights they argued are protected in the U.S. Constitution, and others who raised concerns about the children of low-income families impacting local schools.
Resident Susan Isenberg said Glenview is already diverse, and local school districts have more than 1,900 students from low-income families.
“We have diversity here. We can only push our schools so far and push taxes,” she said.
“I wish you all would reconsider how you voted the last time,” she told trustees.
The League of Women Voters of Glenview had followed the issue for several months in support of changing the village housing ordinance.
Joan Ziegler, league president, said some residents believed renters do not pay taxes, when in reality landlords use their rent money to pay property taxes.
“It’s also not right to single out families with vouchers and say they are burdens to schools. The purpose of schools is to teach,” Ziegler said.
“Glenview is not meant to be a gated community, keeping some out. … Glenview is a leader,” she said.
The issue started May 8, 2013, when Cook County commissioners approved an ordinance that prohibited landlords from refusing tenants because of income and vouchers.
In August 2013, Glenview trustees passed a local ordinance exempting property owners from the county law, adding they believed the issue needed more study and public input and would probably return to Village Hall for more attention.
The “ordinance doesn’t prohibit the use of Section 8 vouchers, but rather restores the rights of landowners’ choice as to whether to participate in such programs,” said Eric Patt, Glenview’s village attorney.
Chicago-area fair housing groups, such as Open Communities, Metropolitan Tenants Organization and Housing Action Illinois, in August 2013 sent a letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the board.
“Glenview’s actions demonstrate the kind of fear and ignorance that has characterized opposition to fair housing laws for more than four decades,” it stated.
Glenview Trustee John Hincamp cast the only opposing vote on Feb. 17 and March 3.
“It has to be fair for everybody, not just the potential tenant but also the landlord,” he said last month.
“As a child we lived in rental housing,” said Trustee Scott Britton.
Britton has been one of the most passionate supporters of changing the village ordinance, as has Trustee Philip White.
“I’m pro-voucher and, to be perfectly frank, this ordinance will not be a sea change in diversity,” Britton said. “Other communities have changed (housing policies), like Northbrook. Was there an enormous change? No. We want to be a welcoming community.”
Britton said he received emails claiming Glenview’s crime and gang activity will increase.
Village records show 102 housing vouchers are being used in Glenview. A total of 39 children live in homes using those vouchers, according to records.
If changed, the ordinance would “have no measurable impact on local schools,” Don Owen, deputy village manager for Glenview.
He also explained the amended ordinance still allows landlords to screen tenants for credit histories, criminal backgrounds and past housing, among other criteria.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune