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The Importance of Fair Housing Month for Immigrants

By Daniela Bardon and Gypsy Gavia

In the past few months, there has been an increase in media reports of landlords exploiting the growing fear people have of immigration authorities to evict people or unfairly raise rents. The president’s immigration policies have made these communities more vulnerable to abuse in the housing sphere. Hostility towards immigrants has increased the already problematic challenge in housing discrimination of unreported complaints due to fear of filing and facing some form of retaliation.

April is National Fair Housing Month and this year marks the 49th anniversary of the 1968 historic federal Fair Housing Act, which sought to increase access to housing among those vulnerable to discrimination and build more inclusive communities across the United States. In these troubling times for Latino and immigrant families, Fair Housing Month’s importance is heightened. For the last five years, the Latino Policy Forum has commemorated National Fair Housing Month by organizing a series of presentations and workshops with housing partners at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to raise awareness about the rights afforded to people under the Fair Housing Act. The workshops provide housing resources to Latino and immigrant residents, including what qualifies as discrimination and what actions can be taken to protect one’s rights. 

Although immigration status is not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act, under the law if landlords inquire about a prospective tenant’s immigration status they must ask the same questions to all applicants. Also, it is illegal to require additional documentation or fees from immigrants or people who are perceived to be immigrants, and if a prospective tenant brings along a translator, landlords or agents are required to work with that translator.

Below is this year’s list of organizations and a schedule of their housing presentations at the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago located on 204 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607. Presentations take place in Spanish at the bottom floor of the consulate from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The Forum is grateful to have extensive partnerships with outstanding organizations developed through its Housing Acuerdo, composed of 31 Chicagoland housing organizations. If you have additional questions regarding fair housing rights or would like to attend one of the presentations at the Mexican Consulate, contact the Forum’s housing team via email or phone at 312-376-1766 x235.