In a letter sent on February 21, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois urged the Chicago Housing Authority not to approve a policy for a new mixed-use development in Chicago that mandates suspicionless drug testing for CHA residents at the facility. The new development is the Shops and Lofts at 47, to be located at 47th Street and Cottage Grove on the City’s South Side.
The ACLU letter notes that the policy of suspicionless drug testing invades the privacy and bodily autonomy of residents, and that testing through means of urinalysis is humiliating for many people. The ACLU also persuasively recites evidence that these policies are based on a flawed double-standard – namely that persons in lower income economic brackets are more likely to use illegal drugs. Finally, the letter points to the fact that the costs of mandatory drug tests – as much as $50 per test, while yielding few positive results – makes the program inefficient and ineffective.
This letter is the latest in a series of objections that the ACLU of Illinois has raised about CHA drug-testing policy. Earlier this year the ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief in a case where a CHA resident at a mixed-income housing development faced eviction because a member of her household supposedly refused to take a mandatory suspicionless drug test. A decade ago, the ACLU first testified before the CHA Board opposing the approval of a suspicionless drug testing scheme at a mixed-income development.
You can read the entire ACLU of Illinois letter to the CHA here.