After many efforts to pass statewide source-of-income fair housing protections in Illinois over the course of almost 20 years, HB 2775 was passed by the Illinois General Assembly on April 7. The legislation amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to add source of income as a protected class and provides people seeking housing with nonwage incomes the same legal protections against discrimination that are available based on race, disability, familial status, sexual orientation, and other factors. When the bill is signed, Illinois will become the 20th state (not including the District of Columbia) to have such a law on the books.
Over half of Illinois households rely on non-wage income. Examples of people in households with nonwage income who will benefit from passage of HB 2775 include:
- Families with Housing Choice Vouchers looking for a landlord to rent to them after what has often been years on a waiting list to secure a voucher.
- Veterans paying for their housing with veterans benefits or housing vouchers specifically set aside to assist veterans in need.
- Single mothers paying to house their families with child support and/or alimony payments.
- Seniors and people with disabilities paying for their housing with their social security funds.
- Persons using rental subsidies to flee domestic violence.
The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing, which comprises more than 130 organizational members, including Housing Action Illinois, an NLIHC state partner, led the campaign that resulted in passage of the new legislation.
“Discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher holders solely because of how they pay for their housing is widespread in local housing markets throughout Illinois,” said Foluke Akanni, housing policy organizer for Housing Action Illinois. “This legislation will level the playing field for all Illinoisans with nonwage income to access a fuller range of housing options.”
Other core members of the coalition leading the advocacy campaign include Access Living, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, HOPE Fair Housing Center, Housing Choice Partners, Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-IL), Northside Community Resources, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and Working Family Solidarity.
The chief co-sponsors of the bill were Representative LaShawn Ford and Senator Ram Villivalam. Both worked closely with advocates to negotiate with and overcome opposition from various groups representing rental property owners. Some groups that originally opposed the bill eventually supported HB 2775 due to amendments that focused the legislation on core source-of-income protections. Others continued to oppose HB 2775 up to its passage.
Sharon Norwood helped advocate for the legislation based on her own experience of source-of-income discrimination. “Having statewide source-of-income protections will help people avoid what happened to me. I had to give up my voucher, because I could not find a landlord to rent to me in the community I wanted my family to live in,” Norwood said. “Once I gave up my voucher, I did find a landlord who rented to me, but I was paying a lot more rent than I could afford because of it.”
The Illinois Coalition for Fair Housing is urging Illinois Governor Pritzker to sign HB 2775 into law as soon as possible. Once the bill is signed, the source-of-income protections will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Find out more about the campaign at: https://www.housingchoicepartners.org/soi-campaign