Today marks the day that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was enacted by Congress. In honor of this significant moment in the Civil Rights Movement, April has been named National Fair Housing Month, and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) will be celebrating all month long.
Signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, the Fair Housing Act establishes the right for all Americans to have access to housing of their choosing without unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, nationality, family composition, gender and disability.
“The signing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is a consequential piece of American history,” said Richard Monocchio, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC). “Where a family chooses to live is an enormous factor in determining the access they will have to high-quality education, employment, health care, nutritious food, and community amenities. The Housing Authority of Cook County is proud to recommit to the principles rooted in this ground-breaking piece of legislation,” he added.
In addition to the protections afforded by the Fair Housing Act, residents of Cook County are protected under local ordinance as well.
“While the Fair Housing Act laid the foundation for fair housing law in America, it’s still a work in progress,” said Monocchio. “We are lucky to live in a county that recognizes there is more work to be done and to have policy makers that are willing to put pen to paper to make it happen. The leadership of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been especially impactful in this regard.”
Passed in its final form in 2015 under the leadership of President Preckwinkle, the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance provides further protections based upon:
• Parental Status
• Military Discharge Status
• Source of Income
• Housing Status
“The protections outlined in the Fair Housing Act are a critical first line-of-defense in ensuring families have a fair opportunity at establishing a life in the neighborhood of their choosing, but it does not go far enough,” President Preckwinkle said. “The Cook County Human Rights Ordinance took extra steps to foster an equitable housing market for all. We hope residents and stakeholders across Cook County will take the time this month to learn more about their rights and responsibilities under federal and local law, and reaffirm their commitment to making stable housing a possibility for everyone.”
HACC urges all Cook County residents to learn more about fair housing law by visiting HACC’s downtown office to pick up information and by following HACC on its social media platforms. Throughout the month of April, HACC will be posting information regarding fair housing and housing discrimination using the hashtags #FairHousingFact and #NationalFairHousingMonth.
Individuals who believe they have been a victim of housing discrimination in suburban Cook County should go to www.cookcountyil.gov/service/complaint-filing-and-investigation to learn more about options for filing a complaint. Residents may also file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 (voice) or 800-927-9275 (TTY).