Fair Housing & Lending Project

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Substandard segregated housing in minority communities amplifies the effect of economic, political, and educational differences, and leads to inequality of many kinds of opportunities, with far-reaching impact on quality of life. By contrast, fair, integrated housing leads directly to equality of environment, healthcare, and education, and strongly assists equality of employment opportunities through access to jobs. Therefore, the Fair Housing Project champions integration by educating people in minority communities about their rights under the fair housing and fair lending laws, investigating complaints of fair housing discrimination, and providing or securing pro bono (free) legal services to individuals and groups who wish to exercise their fair housing rights and secure equal housing opportunities. We accept cases involving discrimination in rental, sales, mortgage lending [hotlink1], homeowners' insurance and advertising [hotlink2]. Our work challenges discrimination in rental and private markets as well as in public and assisted housing.

Everyone has the right to live where they want to live, free               from discrimination

We now have a special helpline for anyone experiencing hate crime or wanting more information on how to combat hate crime: 312-202-3663

Chicago remains one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the United States, despite active efforts opposing it. Groups in addition to African-Americans also experience significant discrimination, including Latinos, families, and people with disabilities. The mission of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee’s Fair Housing Project is to eliminate housing discrimination and segregation based on race, national origin, familial status, physical and mental disability, sexual orientation, source of income, religion, gender, and other bases, to affirmatively further fair housing in the Chicago metropolitan area. 
To achieve that mission, staff and volunteers with the Fair Housing Project:
  • educate tenants, homeowners, landlords, and others about their rights and duties under fair housing and fair lending laws, 
  • advocate for progressive laws and public policies,
  • conduct intake, referral, and investigation of housing discrimination complaints, and
  • provide legal representation to individuals and groups in asserting and enforcing their fair housing rights and securing equal housing opportunities. 
Working hand-in-hand with a talented and dedicated pool of pro bono attorneys from Chicago Lawyers’ Committee member law firms, the Fair Housing Project is reducing housing discrimination in the Chicago area.
The Chicago Lawyers' Committee is part of an area-wide network called CAFHA (Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance), which works to combat housing discrimination and promote integrated communities of opportunity through research, education, and advocacy. 

What do Fair Housing Laws prohibit, and who do they protect?

All discrimination laws specify protected classes and prohibited acts.  Under federal, Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago law, it is illegal to engage in the following prohibited acts against someone based on one of the following characteristics, which are called protected classes.
Protected Classes Prohibited Acts
  • race 
  • national origin and ancestry
  • familial status 
  • disability
  • sexual orientation identity
  • source of income, including Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly Section 8)
  • religion 
  • gender or gender identity
  • age
  • marital status
  • military status and unfavorable military discharge status, and
  • [domestic violence] order of protection status
  • refuse to rent, sell, or negotiate for housing
  • falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental 
  • advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference in housing
  • engage in steering, which is limiting access to available housing based on discrimination 
  • set different terms, conditions or privileges in the sale or rental of housing, or in occupying housing after acquiring it
  • provide different housing services or facilities
  • refuse to provide reasonable accommodations or to allow reasonable modifications to housing for people with disabilities
  • coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of their fair housing rights, and 
  • for residential lenders, to refuse to lend or set different loan terms or conditions

Note that not all laws cover all protected classes or all prohibited acts.  Consult with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, a civil rights government agency, or a private attorney to determine the laws’ application to particular situations.  If you believe you have been discriminated against, want to volunteer, or want to request a fair housing speaker or training, contact us.

Now Seeking Qualified Applicants For:

Chicago Fair Housing Testing and Training Coordiator

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights seeks applicants for a Chicago Fair Housing Testing and Training Coordinator position. The Coordinator will conduct a testing and training program regarding discrimination in rental housing in Chicago, as a member of the Fair Housing Project team.  Duties include recruiting and training testers, preparing and overseeing tester assignments, reviewing and analyzing test results, conducting educational workshops, and assisting with grant reporting.  He/she will plan and conduct training sessions for housing providers. 40 hours/week with flexibility required.  This is a one year position, with the possibility of an extension. 

Qualifications:  The position requires a committed, outgoing person with excellent writing and speaking skills who is detail-oriented and able to meet deadlines.  Two to three years of relevant experience and demonstrated commitment to civil rights and social change required; experience in fair housing or housing desired. Bilingual Spanish/English a plus.  E-mail cover letter, resume, writing sample (no more than 5 pgs.) and 2 references a.s.a.p. but no later than February 22, 2017 to Betsy Shuman-Moore, bshuman-moore@clccrul.org.  The Chicago Lawyers' Committee is an EOE and encourages all qualified applicants to apply.  No phone calls please.

Fair Housing Project Intake Specialist

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights seeks applicants for a part time Fair Housing Intake Specialist position.  The Specialist will conduct intake and investigation of fair housing complaints as a member of CLC’s Fair Housing Project team.  Duties incl. interviewing and supervising others in interviewing people seeking legal representation, working with attorneys to assess cases for litigation, assisting with training and other Project activities, and documenting Project activities to funders.  20 hours/week with flexibility required. 

Qualifications: The position requires a committed, outgoing person who is detail-oriented and able to meet deadlines.  Exp. in fair housing, housing, and/or lending industries desirable. Bilingual Spanish/English pref.  E-mail cover letter, resume, writing sample (no more than 5 pgs.) and 2 references by February 22, 2017, to Betsy Shuman-Moore, bshuman-moore@clccrul.org.  The Chicago Lawyers' Committee is an EOE and encourages all qualified applicants to apply.  No phone calls please.