Lawsuit Resolved Alleging Discrimination in Rental of Downtown Office Space to Chicago Nonprofit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 15, 2014, Chicago, IL  – The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rightsannounces the amicable resolution of a discrimination complaint filed on behalf of Chicago nonprofit Housing Choice Partners (HCP) in federal court against a downtown commercial real estate firm.

HCP alleged in its suit that in June 2012, defendants refused HCP's proposal to sublease office space at a downtown building, based on the race of HCP’s primarily African-American clients, who would be visiting HCP’s offices.  HCP alleged that the reasons defendants gave them for not considering their proposal were untrue.  HCP alleged that these actions violated federal, Illinois, and Chicago civil rights laws.  Defendants vigorously denied the allegations. The lawsuit ultimately resulted in a dialogue between the parties, which led to an amicable resolution.

Housing Choice Partners is an Illinois not-for-profit organization whose mission is to combat the concentrations of poverty and race in Chicago’s residential housing market. HCP assists people with low incomes find and move to affordable housing in “Opportunity Areas” with relatively lower poverty and higher integration.   Under the Housing Choice Voucher program, HCP's clients, who are primarily African American, receive subsidies that allow them to rent units in the private market.  HCP also provides counseling to its clients on topics such as home maintenance, financial management, and tenant rights and responsibilities.

“We are happy the matter could be resolved in an amicable manner,” said Chris Klepper, HCP’s Executive Director.

Volunteer attorneys at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee member firm Grippo & Elden LLC, working with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, represented HCP.  Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Fair Housing Project Director Betsy Shuman-Moore stated, "It is important that people know that federal, state, and Chicago civil rights laws prohibit discrimination in commercial real estate transactions, in addition to residential rental and sales." Chicago Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director Jay S. Readey stated, "We especially want to note the excellent legal advocacy for Housing Choice Partners of volunteer attorneys Laura McNally and Matthew Wolfe of Grippo & Elden LLC." 

“We are proud to have represented HCP in this matter as part of our longstanding commitment to pro bono service,” said Grippo & Elden’s McNally.

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Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. protects and promotes civil rights by bringing the strength and prestige of the private bar to bear on the problems of poverty and discrimination. The Committee champions equal justice and community development for underrepresented people by partnering with volunteer lawyers to provide litigation and transactional representation. The Fair Housing Project works to eliminate housing discrimination and promote fair and equal housing in the Chicago metropolitan area through legal representation, education, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.clccrul.org