Today, Governor Rauner signed SB 1547 into law. This new law bars cities and towns from punishing landlords and tenants based on calls for police assistance in response to incidents of domestic and sexual violence or on behalf of a person with disabilities.

No one should be forced out of their home because they call the police for help – but that is exactly what has been happening under municipal laws that force landlords to evict tenants who need police assistance.

In Illinois, like many other states, local communities have passed laws they claim reduce crime but in fact harm those who reach out for help. These laws – “crime-free housing” and “chronic nuisance” ordinances – often penalize tenants and landlords based on the number of calls for police services to a property. Because of these laws, those most in need of police or emergency assistance are afraid to ask for it.

Studies in Wisconsin, New York, and Missouri have all found that these laws are disproportionately enforced against survivors of domestic violence who seek police protection. In Illinois, survivors of domestic violence have reported being afraid to call the police for help because of threats of eviction. Individuals with disabilities who need emergency services are also harmed. By sending a victim-blaming message, these ordinances undermine rather than promote public safety.

Thanks to the leadership of Senator Toi Hutchinson and Representative Anthony DeLuca, and the support of Governor Rauner, tenants or landlords who are harmed by such an ordinance can now bring suit against the local government to protect their rights. Thanks to this new law, survivors of domestic or sexual violence and individuals with disabilities no longer need fear losing their housing just because they reached out for help.

Have you been unfairly threatened with eviction or a fine because a call to police or arrest happened at your home or on your property? Share your story.