Our Fair Housing Department Director, Chris Riehlmann, discusses our Fair Housing Department objectives in the new year.
In 2021, Open Communities saw significant accomplishments in the fair housing realm.
Among the highlights are:
Partnering with the Housing Authority of Cook County to spread the word to housing providers about voucher programs and sources of income discrimination.
Working with Chicago area reentry programs to educate returning citizens about Cook County's protections for individuals with arrest and conviction records.
Our investigation and enforcement programs helped many suburban Cook County residents acquire reasonable accommodations, file complaints about race-based housing discrimination, and ensure providers accept housing vouchers.
Looking Forward to 2022 Fair Housing Programs
In the new year, we will focus our outreach and education programs to touch a community that is no stranger to housing discrimination: non-English speaking immigrants and refugees.
Did you know that approximately 20% of Cook County’s population is foreign-born? And, since 1975, Illinois has resettled more than 120,000 refugees from more than 60 countries. These immigrant and refugee communities are some of the most vulnerable populations to housing discrimination.
Open Communities has found housing providers take advantage of these populations due to language deficiencies or lack of knowledge about their fair housing rights. It is important to remind the community and housing providers that national origin discrimination will not be tolerated.
As a part of this educational campaign, Open Communities plans to work closely with trusted partner organizations to spread its message, expand non-English speaking staff to accommodate clients, and advocate for housing justice in new arenas.
No matter what 2022 brings, Open Communities will provide effective and comprehensive services to all fair housing complaints, regardless of the protected class. We will continue to offer Chicago's north and northwest suburbs investigations, enforcement actions, and educational workshops to ensure fair housing laws are known and respected.