FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2024


Zindy Marquez
Director of Communications
312.202.3657 (office) 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – On Friday, February 9th, the Community Safety Through Stable Homes Act Coalition joined Senator Karina Villa (25th District) and Representative La Shawn Ford (8th District) to introduce the Community Safety Through Stable Homes Act (HB 5314 | SB 3680), which addresses the alarming trend of so-called “crime-free housing and nuisance property” ordinances (CFNOs). These local laws penalize renters and housing providers for contact with law enforcement and often violate fair housing and other civil rights laws. 

Statewide, at least 145 jurisdictions have enacted CFNOs, based on the misguided belief that they help communities fight crime. In practice, CFNO enforcement results in unjust evictions, discriminatory practices that criminalize those in need of emergency assistance, and exclusion of renters based on alleged criminal activity or contact with law enforcement. 

“CFNOs have often been enacted during periods of perceived or actual demographic change in a community, disproportionately targeting people of color and reinforcing regional patterns of segregation”  explained Dominic Voz of Open Communities, a fair housing organization that helps lead the coalition.  

CFNO enforcement also jeopardizes the safety of vulnerable community members who seek law enforcement assistance, such as those experiencing gender-based violence or mental illness. “CFNOs have the unintended consequences of isolating survivors of domestic and sexual violence, making them afraid to contact law enforcement or emergency services, and creating situations where they need to choose between their safety and their housing,” said Jackie Koriath from The Network, Advocating Against Domestic Violence. 

“People facing mental health challenges are more likely to need emergency services. We should encourage those in crisis to seek help, not penalize them by threatening them with eviction,” said Senator Karina Villa, one of the bill’s chief sponsors. 

CFNOs link the risk of eviction with contacting the police, which discourages residents from reporting crime. As Micaela Alvarez of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee explains, “this not only makes communities less safe, but unlawfully punishes residents for engaging in protected speech.” A Chicago Sun-Times story details the story of a Chicago Lawyers’ Committee client, Diamond Jones, mother of three and long-time resident of Richton Park, who was evicted from her home after calling the police for help. 

The Community Safety through Stable Homes Act, once implemented, will prevent discrimination and displacement, help people contact emergency services without fear, and put the focus on better responses to crime. Destabilizing families and endangering survivors of domestic or sexual violence and neighbors with disabilities does not result in safer communities.

The bill protects civil rights and prevents homelessness by prohibiting local governments and public housing authorities from:

  • Forcing or encouraging landlords to evict tenants based on alleged criminal or nuisance behavior.

  • Classifying any law enforcement or emergency contact as nuisance behavior, including service calls from people seeking police assistance. 

  • Requiring or encouraging landlords to use criminal background checks, which can cause discrimination based on arrest and conviction records.

  • Requiring or encouraging landlords to evict entire households when one family member has an interaction with law enforcement or is convicted of a crime, which can result in families being torn apart and children being homeless. 

“Making our communities safer should be a top priority, but there is simply no evidence that crime-free ordinances reduce crime. Instead, they unfairly punish renters and property owners. This bill will address the harm that CFNOs cause without altering the ability of property owners to initiate nuisance-related evictions or changing the power of local governments to prosecute criminal activity,” said Representative Ford, chief sponsor of the bill. 

Despite their prevalence, CFNOs are increasingly recognized as ineffective and vulnerable to discriminatory enforcement. A recent AP story highlights a case against the city of Peoria, IL, where property owners were often required to evict entire families on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations that a member of a household engaged in nuisance or criminal activity. 

The AP article also cites recent successful legislative campaigns and civil rights litigation against CFNOs brought by the Department of Justice and civil rights advocates. As Kate Walz of the National Housing Law Project explained, “Illinois has the opportunity to be a leader on this issue and join California and Maryland, states which recently took action to curtail or prohibit the use of these ordinances.” 

The coalition is proud to have gained support from a wide range of endorsing organizations, including: Access Living, Alliance for Safety and Justice, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Citizen Action/Illinois, HOPE Fair Housing Center, Housing Action Illinois, Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, Illinois Justice Project, National Housing Law Project, Open Communities, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, Thresholds, and others.

Read the fact sheet about this legislation here. 

Read the story about Chicago Lawyers’ Committee client Diamond Jones here. 

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