Just Housing Amendment Outreach Program
2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner
Cook County, Ill., IL
About the Program
Category: Civic Education and Public Information
Cook County is a national leader in the fair housing arena. Cook County enacted the Just Housing Amendment to its Human Rights Ordinance (“JHA”) in 2019, which was one of the first anti-discrimination laws to prohibit automatic housing denials based on criminal history. JHA requires landlords to inquire further regarding any convictions before proceeding with a denial for housing. It applies throughout Cook County, including all of Chicago and unincorporated Cook County. Related to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary in 2021 to launch the JHA Outreach Program – a program to educate landlords, housing providers, and potential tenants regarding their rights and duties within JHA. The program included trainings, social media campaigns, and other strategic communications. Information and sample notices were shared with landlords and housing providers through direct mailing and in property tax assessments. The program also involved collaboration with a prominent screening company to ensure compliance in more than 7,000 housing applications per month. Outcomes have been positive. We are confidently reaching greater knowledge and compliance with JHA in Cook County through correct processing of an estimated 100,000+ housing applications, 70,000+ reached by direct mailing or on social media, and hundreds more who received training regarding JHA requirements,. More individuals with justice involvement can legally access housing.