The City of Chicago announced the release of the final “Blueprint for Fair Housing”, a comprehensive plan to address the City’s housing segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and history of inequitable investment. First announced in April 2021, the Blueprint includes specific plans to mitigate and eliminate barriers to fair housing, and the final document includes input and recommendations received during a 30-day public comment held last year.
“I am proud to be part of an effort never undertaken by the City before to coordinate across departments and advocacy groups to ensure a strong vision and action steps for fair housing in Chicago,” said Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara. “It is the role of government to address past harms and their current manifestations, and ensure that equity in housing becomes the norm for all residents.”
The findings of fair housing challenges, community conversations, and extensive data analysis confirm that residential segregation creates a cycle of instability and economic hardship with long-lasting consequences. The Blueprint for Fair Housing identifies the following eight steps the City will take over the next five years to further fair housing goals and make Chicago more equitable:
- Increase and preserve affordable, accessible housing options
- Prevent involuntary displacement and stabilize neighborhoods
- Increase opportunities and community integration for people with disabilities
- Address the segregation of opportunity and related inequitable distribution of resources
- Enhance housing policies and programs to increase fair housing choice
- Expand fair housing outreach, education, and enforcement
- Preserve existing and expand affordable homeownership
- Ensure that internal policies and practices advance equity and address the history of structural racism
The Blueprint will also provide direction on how the City will work to address those forces that both drive and exacerbate Chicago’s racial divides, including wealth and public health, that influence a community’s access to opportunity, employment, quality education, transportation, and others essential services.
The Chicago Blueprint for Fair Housing results from the City’s participation with the Cook County Regional Assessment of Fair Housing, a first-of-its-kind planning effort that convened 13 jurisdictions and six public housing authorities to understand the underlying causes behind the region’s fair housing issues. The City partnered with Enterprise Community Partners, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA), the Metropolitan Planning Council, and six community partners awarded grants to gather feedback directly from impacted communities. These community partners included:
- Chicago Housing Initiative
- Connections for the Homeless
- Housing Choice Partners
- Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing
- Legal Aid Chicago
- Metropolitan Tenants Organizations
- Northwest Compass
- Respond Now
“The Chicago Blueprint for Fair Housing has been a cross-sector effort, centered on equality and equity, that lays out a plan to create a better tomorrow,” said Melinda Clemons, vice president and Central Midwest market leader, Enterprise. “It will inspire the next generation of champions that are needed to achieve a more just future. The Blueprint powerfully communicates the type of City it aspires to be tomorrow. Those future champions will see themselves in Chicago’s vision of the future and will want to be a part of it.”
Implementation of the plan is just as important as the plan itself. The City of Chicago will build upon the Blueprint for Fair Housing by taking meaningful actions to bring it to fruition over the next five years by partnering with local housing experts and community advocates throughout the implementation process and publicly reporting both accomplishments and setbacks. The Mayor’s Office, Department of Housing, and Commission on Human Relations will be partnering with an Advisory Committee of housing experts and advocates to support implementation in the next phase of this work.
The Blueprint for Fair Housing represents the City’s commitment to affirmably further fair housing and address racial inequity, priorities of the Biden administration, which is reinstating Obama-era rules integral to the enforcement of laws barring discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) obligation requires federal agencies and federal funding recipients to take proactive steps to address longstanding patterns of segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment. The entire Blueprint is available by visiting www.chicago.gov/fairhousing.