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
Rachel Schwartz, AmeriCorps VISTA
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.
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.