Mission & Staff
The Housing Opportunity Project focuses on systemic litigation and advocacy to combat housing discrimination and barriers to opportunity. We investigate complaints of discrimination throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, educate people about fair housing rights and obligations and provide representation to individuals and groups to challenge discriminatory policies and practices based on race, national origin and other protected classes. We also engage in advocacy supporting equitable development and investment in historically disinvested communities of color supporting the stabilization and improvement of housing.
Key Project Staff
Aneel Chablani, Advocacy Director
Barbara Barreno-Paschall, Senior Staff Attorney
Josefina Navar, Senior Fair Housing Testing & Investigations Coordinator
Josh Koenig, Intake Specialist
Hannah Stephan, AmeriCorps VISTA
Upcoming Clinics & Events
The Housing Opportunity Project offers in-person intakes at our neighborhood clinics. All currently scheduled intake clinics are listed below alongside our other upcoming events.
If you are planning to attend an upcoming clinic, please RSVP to our Intake Specialist via phone at 312-888-4192 or via email at email@example.com. If you do not RSVP you may still attend the clinic, but we cannot guarantee that you will be able to meet with a staff member or attorney.
Federal Litigation Challenging 25-Year Criminal Background Bans
On October 24, 2018, we joined attorneys at Winston & Strawn LLP in filing a federal lawsuit that challenges a large property manager’s policy of enforcing a blanket ban on individuals with criminal convictions that go as far back as 25 years. The policy does not allow for any individual consideration of an applicant’s circumstances, including the length of time since the conviction, years since release from prison, rehabilitation efforts, or whether the past conviction actually presents any legitimate reason to think that the applicant currently poses any safety risk. We allege that the use of such a policy has a disparate impact on Black applicants who represent a disproportionate share of individuals incarcerated and re-entering society, and denies individuals opportunities for housing.
Source of Income Discrimination
Recently, we have attacked source of income discrimination on many levels. Housing Choice Vouchers, formerly called Section 8, are federal subsidies that allow low-income families to rent housing in the private market. Chicago outlawed source of income discrimination more than 25 years ago, and Cook County followed suit in 2013. However, our testing in Chicago reveals that housing providers discriminate against tenants based on voucher status 32% of the time, and Cook County testing showed similar widespread discrimination. The Housing Opportunity Project is working to address the problem systemically, representing tenants with claims, and educating landlords and tenants. Housing Choice Voucher discrimination contributes to ongoing segregation in Cook County by keeping qualified renters, most of whom are Black, out of areas of opportunity with access to better schools, jobs, and other amenities.
Resources on Fair Housing
On December 14, 2017, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and Logan Square Neighborhood Association filed a lawsuit in circuit court alleging that the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios conducts assessments that systematically and illegally shift residential property tax burdens from Whites to Hispanics and African-Americans, and from the rich to the poor. Download the complaint, learn about the case, and submit your own comments below.