Fair Housing Ordinance Change in Naperville

Who has the right to apply for housing in town? That was the question council members were faced with when they set out to redefine the city’s fair housing ordinance.

Prior to the meeting, Naperville’s fair housing code prohibited discrimination based on income, but didn’t clearly define what counted as income.

A proposal from the Housing Advisory Commission hoped that housing vouchers could be included in that definition, a notion seconded by many.

“Housing discrimination exists, even here in Naperville, I’ve felt it first hand,” said Johan Hendrikson, who currently holds a voucher.

“I want to be chosen or talked to just like any other tenant that goes to that place, I shouldn’t have to ambush an open house so that you can get to know me versus the stories you hear about section eight housing voucher holders,” said another voucher holder, Gina James.

If vouchers were included in the code, landlords would be required to consider those applicants just as they would any other person, still requiring passing credit score and criminal background checks to rent.

But from landlords to neighbors, some wouldn’t welcome the change because it could shift the city demographics.

“When I see this section eight stuff it raises a hair on the back of my neck, we don’t want this in our community,” said Michael Costello, a speaker during public comment.

Ultimately, in a close 5-4 vote, council approved the change, citing Naperville as setting the standard for the new code change.

“I think that this is the perfect place for us to be a model community in how you advance fair housing with due respect to the landlords and the business community,” said Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, Councilwoman with the City of Naperville.

Also passed at the meeting were two changes to the city’s liquor code.

Council unanimously agreed to lift the restriction on alcohol sales in the downtown Naperville Walgreens because alcohol related problems have subsided since the restriction was set in 2014.

And a new liquor class set aside for recreational and lifestyle amenities now allows for Ten Friend’s Blow Dry and Style House and 18|8 Fine Men’s Hair Salons to serve alcohol.

The next city council meeting will be October 18th.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.

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