A local group has created a petition to the Champaign City Council to eliminate discriminate in housng against people with conviction records. The group includes members from CUP, Bend the Arc, CU Indivisible and CU Tenant Union.
Briefly, Section 17-4.5 of the Champaign City Code allows landlords to use conviction records to deny our neighbors housing up to 5 years after they have completed their sentence, even when that past record is not related to their tenancy. Here’s some more background on the issue from CU Indivisible.
I am part of a group that wants to help fix a section of the Champaign city housing ordinance. There is a section of the human rights ordinance that says landlords can use a certain exception to discriminate. Section 17-4.5 states that landlords can decline to rent to those individuals with conviction records, after they have served their time, for up to 5 years after they have served their time, solely based on having a conviction record.
This impacts the poor and people of color way more than those with means, because those with means have other options to renting. People of color are more apt to be poor. This is even an issue if the person’s family is already renting. The landlord can state that the former felon will not be allowed to live at the property.
These people have served their time. They are getting penalized a second time. Where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to do? This increases recidivism because without a place to live, one cannot have a job, one cannot get much in the way of financial assistance. Much of the time, one needs an address.
This is a petition that will be going to the Champaign City Council. Please read it and sign it. You do not have to live in Champaign to sign it, but there will be a bigger impact from the signatures of residents in Champaign. Also, for those that live in Champaign, after you sign, the petition will have a flag asking if you want an email sent to you city councilperson. If you click “yes”, you will be asked what aspect of this ordinance you want the email to reflect. After you select, the email is automatically sent.
This is very easy. I did it, and even allowed an email to be sent to my city councilperson. All together, counting reading the petition, it took me about 1.5 minutes or so. It was very quick.
In addition to this, for those of you who will be around, if you can come to the Champaign City Council meeting on July 24 at 7 pm, the First Followers, who have been working on this issue for many, many months, will be presenting to the city council and the petition will be delivered. They would appreciate as many people going as possible, but especially Champaign residents.