By: Mike Glasser, RPBG President
Last week the NBOA submitted our list of questions and comments (see attachment), yet I would like to bring special focus on these few, including a couple of lesser referenced provisions and concerns.
Demonstrable Risk; (720.120)
We have always interpreted 720.120 (A) – (C) as a list of the only convictions on which a housing providers may base a denial, subject to an individualized assessment.
Are we misinterpreting this?
Are we allowed to reject an applicant for non violent thefts; deceptive practice; gun possession charges after conducting an individualized assessment?
The way we read this, we can’t.
Tenant Screening Criteria (730.100 (A))
The first task that most housing providers will face when trying to comply with the JHO is developing a ‘tenant screening criteria’ to issue to to all applicants before accepting an application fee.
Expect a lot of confused and frustrated Cook County housing providers, including ma and pa operators, trying to come up with an policy explaining how they will evaluate an applicant’s criminal conviction history to determine whether to rent to them or not. What is the County looking for us to do here? Summarize the JHO process or specify the types of convictions that might result in the applicant’s denial, subject to the review process?
Disability: (750.100 (I) and (J):
Why do the Rules include “disability” and ‘reasonable accommodation’ in the factors that housing providers are to consider with when conducting individualized assessments?
How do we consider an applicant’s contention that we should disregard a history of violent offenses attributable to his bi-polar condition when the applicant claims they are now medicated? How are ‘ma and pa’ operators (let alone more sophisticated players) supposed to understand making a “reasonable accommodation (that) could be provided to ameliorate any purported demonstrable risk?
County not providing on line access to criminal records to screening industry.
Yesterday, a representative from a national screening company explained that Cook County is one of only a few counties that does not provide on line access of data to screening companies – causing the industry to employ courthouse runners to manually gather data and delaying a Friday inquiry until the next week – costing additional days.
5 days to notify of an appeal: Why does an ex offender need five days to notify a housing provider that they choose to appeal, either because of false identify or other mitigating factors?
5 days to furnish the appeal: Knowing that they will face questions about their past, why can’t ex offenders have their mitigating factors ready to present? Ex offenders, like all citizens, are expected to walk into a job interview with a resume. Why not the same when applying for housing? Why not set some expectations on these folks? You want housing – then be prepared to sell yourself as someone who would be a great tenant.
Why can’t those applying for an apartment be prepared to present their case? knowing that they will likely face questions about their past, why can’t ex offenders have their mitigating factors lined up ahead of time?
How about a 2 day/2 day revision to the Ordinance? Be sure that electronic notices will suffice, or else postal delays could create more confusion.
Cost of Enforcement
How many more investigators and staff people will the Cook County Human Rights Commission need to investigate and otherwise manage the plethora of new cases that will undoubtedly come its way?
At what cost to taxpayers?
Education and Outreach
Housing providers are only starting to wake up to this Ordinance and all folks see is a complicated process.
How does the County plan to educate those who you expect to furnish affordable housing on the rationale behind this ordinance?
Expect many condo owners and condo board members who will likely be similarly confused and in need of guidance.
You mentioned that the County will help further define the many new and confusing terms used in the Rules. What is the plan for better familiarizing us with this information?
– Michael Glasser
President, Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance