SPRINGFIELD – The House on April 22 passed House Bill 2775, introduced by Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago.
The bill amends the state’s Homelessness Prevention Act by creating additional legal defenses for renters and protections against discrimination based on source of income, as well as preventing undue administrative burdens when applying for housing assistance.
Protected sources of income under the bill would include various types of income including emergency housing assistance, social security, disability support, and federal Section 8 housing vouchers.
Ford said rental discrimination based on source of income is often a “proxy” for other factors that target communities of color and people with disabilities.
“Without source of income protections, landlords can discriminate against veterans, voucher holders, people with disabilities and older adults by refusing to accept their non-wage income,” Ford said.
“This new law would be critical to ensure a more just and equitable housing market across our state and to combat historic segregation and discrimination,” he added.
The bill states that a landlord commits a civil rights violation if they choose to apply an income or asset requirement to a tenant with a “non-wage source of income”.
Opponents of the bill, including Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, said it would impose unnecessary restrictions and requirements on landlords.
“What this body seems to keep wanting to do is impose more burdens on the landlords, and I’d really like to know in what universe you get more affordable housing by making affordable housing harder to do,” Mazzochi said.
The bill passed by a 62-48 vote and will be sent to the Senate.
Housing advocates including former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti joined Ford and state Sen. Karina Villa Tuesday, April 13 to call for support for a measure aimed at supporting low-income renters.
House Bill 2775 and Senate Bill 2492 are a pair of identical bills which aim to create additional legal defenses for renters and protections against discrimination based on source of income, as well as preventing undue administrative burdens when applying for housing assistance.
Sanguinetti, a Republican who served with former Gov. Bruce Rauner, is now executive director for HOPE Fair Housing Center in Wheaton. She said the bills would begin to “move the needle” on fair housing and civil rights issues in the state.
“The most likely victims of source of income discrimination are single woman-led households who receive income like alimony, child support, or rent assistance. Households in which one or more persons has a disability, and receive (Supplemental Security Income) or (Social Security Disability) or rent assistance,” Sanguinetti said.
Ford, D-Chicago, who is the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, said discrimination against renters based on social security and disability income disproportionately targets communities of color.
“Social Security Disability payments or child support source income discrimination is often, we’ve learned, a proxy for racial discrimination with Black and Latinx households, (who are) more likely to have their income scrutinized or denied by housing providers,” Ford said.