"Empty Promises: Fair Housing Ordinances in Metropolitan Chicago Suburbs"


The Illinois Municipal Code grants to any municipality the power to enact ordinances prescribing fair housing practices. Of the 271 suburban municipalities in the six-county metropolitan area of Chicago, 101 (37%) have adopted codes concerning fair housing practices. Most of these codes take the form of independent fair housing ordinances. However, an analysis of these ordinances and their implementation by suburban municipal governments finds that for most governments local ordinances are largely symbolic placekeepers that few are aware of, even among those mandated by law for their implementation. Among the main findings of our analysis:

  • 63% of the local entities responsible for fair housing, such as human relations commissions, meet less than quarterly and many have never met;
  • Although the federal Fair Housing Act was amended in 1988 to extend protections to families with children and to persons with disabilities, 16 years later 56% of municipal ordinances provide less protection to families with children than under federal laws and 25% fail to protect persons with disabilities;
  • Less than 2 in 5 of the municipalities provide training to those responsible for fair housing, including the commissions and staff empowered to take complaints and conduct investigations.

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