The new rules for the Just Housing Amendment have taken effect, although enforcement begins January 31. This amendment expands the Human Rights section of Cook County municipal law to protect individuals with a criminal background when applying for housing. It is important that those in the residential leasing business update their policies to reflect the new Just Housing requirements.
- Make sure your tenant screening process is a two-step procedure. Start with the normal background check of financials, then the criminal background check.
- If there is an applicant with a criminal background, only crimes committed within the last three years can be considered unless the applicant is a sex offender.
- If a denial of housing is necessary, housing providers must conduct an Individualized Assessment that considers other factors of rehabilitation in that person’s life.
- Tenants have the right to dispute anything that shows up in their criminal background. However, the unit does NOT need to be held vacant during the dispute time.
Affordable Requirments Ordinance (ARO) Task Force
The Department of Housing Commissioner has put together an ARO Task Force. The group is composed of 20 people with a mix of elected and appointed government officials. The Housing Commissioner, Marisa Novara, has not yet announced a goal for the task force. Yet, the commission expects results by mid-summer later this year.
An unprecedented community improvement initiative, INVEST South/West is underway. The initiative is combining the resources of City departments, non-profits, corporate partners targeting ten specific neighborhoods: Austin, Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Quad Communities, North Lawndale, New City, Roseland, South Chicago and South Shore.
CAR is strongly opposed to any form of rent control. Rent control would be destructive not only to the rental and overall housing market but to the growth of our economy in general.
The battle continues between proponents of rent control and the real estate industry. This has arguably become a distraction from the core issue: as the battle rages, long-term, sustainable solutions are becoming less and less the focal point. CAR believes housing programs need to target the population in need i.e. more housing for workforce-age individuals and families need to be prioritized and programs that assist elderly or low-income households need to be fine-tuned. As the Lift the Ban Coalition continues its efforts, CAR will continue to work toward healthy dialogue between the real estate community and “Lift the Ban” members.
As a reminder, rent control will:
- Decrease the supply of affordable housing, now and in the future
- Increase rents for non-controlled rental units
- Deflate property values
- Increase property taxes on homeowners, including condo owners
Rent control is a blanket policy that has proven ineffective over the long-term, and we believe the discussion on how these programs might expand or become more efficient should be leading the way.