HOPE files 18 complaints against Elgin, Ill.

HOPE Fair Housing Center
2100 Manchester Rd., Suite 1070-B
Wheaton, IL 60187-4579
Fax: 630-690-6586 Date: August 2, 2000
Bernard J. Kleina

Re: The Filing of Eighteen Housing Discrimination Complaints
Against the City of Elgin

Today, HOPE Fair Housing Center (HOPE) filed eighteen complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), charging the City of Elgin (Elgin) with discrimination against minority residents in the enforcement of its Property Maintenance Code in violation of the Fair Housing Act. HOPE is taking this action as the culmination of an extended and intensive investigation of the policies and practices of the City of Elgin on behalf of persons who have relied on HOPE for assistance.

HOPE’s complaint is filed in conjunction with seventeen individual complaints from Elgin homeowners, landlords, and tenants who have been the victims of an ongoing, targeted campaign which completely disregards their civil and constitutional rights. These complaints are representative of an ongoing pattern and practice of harassment, overzealous enforcement, invasive searches, intimidation, inappropriate use of police presence, and unequal treatment of Latino and other minority residents by Elgin officials. (See Complaint Summary attached)

The just released Monitoring Report by HUD further supports the allegations of HOPE and the individual complaints.

In addition, the City of Elgin has taken the unprecedented action of setting minimum home prices in its Far West Area Plan section. In these new subdivisions, the City has set the minimum home prices at $325,000 for single-family homes and $225,000 for townhouses. Mayor Ed Schock was quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "We’re trying to have balance in our residential housing market. We’re losing white middle-class residents because we don’t offer the full range of opportunities." . . . It’s Not Racist to Want to Keep a Portion of the Community White and Middle Class. I think that’s healthy." (Ch. Trib., 12/22/99, "Mayor Defends Upscale-Home Plan; Builders, Housing Groups Say It Is Discriminatory.")

"The discriminatory housing practices of Elgin are some of the most blatant I’ve ever witnessed in the Chicago Metropolitan Area", said Bernard J. Kleina, Executive Director of HOPE. One example is that of Sabrina Roman. In this case, an Elgin inspector and a police officer forced Roman, who was more than eight months pregnant at the time, to vacate her apartment on 15 minutes notice, and prohibited her from even placing a phone call. Sabrina Roman had no alternative but to walk 15 blocks to her grandmother’s house, carrying her two-year old son, and some of her belongings, in the rain and sleet. Elgin had no cause to evict her, much less force her out of her home immediately and without warning. Her case is just one example of a city out of control with regard to the way it treats its Latino residents."

Florentina Rendon, Outreach Coordinator for HOPE says that, "I would like to thank our clients who came forward with their complaints against the City of Elgin. It took a lot of courage for them to do so. All of the complainants just want to live peacefully in their homes. They don’t want or expect city officials to barge into their homes whenever they feel like it. Our clients work hard and want to feel secure in their homes, just like everyone else in America."