Blog Archive

Segregation In Chicago Neighborhoods

A letter from CLC's Director of Fair Housing Betsy Shuman-Moore to the Chicago Reader Editors in response to their story titled Still Separate, Unequal, and Ignored:

To the Chicago Reader Editors:

Thank you, Steve Bogira, Mick Dumke, and the Reader for continuing to spotlight and detail Chicago’s persistent, harmful neighborhood segregation and the need for the Mayor and others to address it, in your recent story “Still Separate, Unequal, and Ignored.”

As you pointed out so well, hypersegregation in housing underlies so many of our city’s problems. Where you live largely determines quality of schools, health, crime, and economic development. The City and others can and should do more to address this continuing situation.

The Fair Housing Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights works to eliminate housing discrimination and segregation and promote fair and equal housing in the Chicago metropolitan area through pro bono legal representation, education, and advocacy.

Under federal, state, county, and city laws, it is illegal to discriminate in housing based on race,  national origin, religion, disability, gender, familial status, sexual orientation and source of income, among other classes. Discrimination against people who have Housing Choice Vouchers, formerly called Section 8, has been outlawed by City ordinance for 20 years, to the City’s great credit. The Cook County Board, led by Commissioner and mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, amended the County’s fair housing ordinance in 2013 to make that the law throughout the county. CLC was pleased to partner with him in that effort. However, as your story said, a Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights study found continued widespread discrimination against these tenants in 2010 and 2011, among other things. More needs to be done.

One important thing the City is doing right now is conducting an “Analysis of Impediments of Fair Housing Choice,” which is examining the current landscape and will make recommendations for change.  The City should adequately fund the Chicago Commission on Human Relations to both promptly adjudicate discrimination complaints and deploy ample staff to educate residents and housing industry actors about civil rights and remedies.  It should also fund fair housing testing to identify and root out discriminatory practices.  Landlords and other housing actors also need to identify and eliminate discrimination.  The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee looks forward to working with the City to break down our segregated living patterns.

Very truly yours,

Betsy Shuman-Moore

Director, Fair Housing and Hate Crime Projects