Letter to the Editor | Champaign housing code needs revision

Letter to the Editor | Champaign housing code needs revision

As I read the Feb. 2 story about the Young Adult Re-entry Program, I thought it's great that young people with conviction records are getting help with jobs, but where are they going to live?

Champaign's human rights law prohibits discrimination based on conviction record in employment and the sale of housing. But Section 17-4.5 of the law allows rental housing discrimination until the individual with a felony conviction has lived outside of jail or prison for at least five years without another conviction.

Most landlords' websites say they deny applications based on felony conviction. If a person with a felony conviction comes from a home-owning family, he or she can reunite with the family immediately upon release. But if the family rents their housing, the person has to wait five years after release before being able to live with family.

The Champaign County NAACP and Racial Justice Task Force and Champaign Human Relations Commission have all recommended that the Champaign City Council repeal Section 17-4.5 because it has a disproportionate impact on African-American people.

In Champaign County, an African-American is more than twice as likely as a Caucasian to rent rather than own.

The original intent of adding 17-4.5 to the Champaign city code was not to harm family stability in the African-American community, but that has been the effect of the law. It's time for the Champaign City Council to repeal Section 17-4.5.