BUFFALO GROVE – To help begin to repair Black and Brown communities after nearly a century of housing discrimination, State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) has sponsored a measure to give Illinois homeowners a path to remove racist language from their property deeds.

052120210097“Restrictive covenants have a long and painful history in the U.S., and it’s time that we finally rid our systems of the remnants of this racist practice,” Johnson said. “The antiquated language contained in many property records can be offensive and even harmful to today’s communities—homeowners should have an avenue to eliminate it once and for all.”

The legislation would allow individuals, condominium associations, unit owners’ associations and other property owners to remove language for unlawful restrictive covenants from recorded property interests, including deeds to property, by submitting a request to the local county recorder.

Under Johnson’s plan, the recorder could charge a fee of no more than $10 for filing a restrictive covenant modification.

Starting in the 1920s and continuing throughout the mid-20th century, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) actively segregated metropolitan areas, guaranteeing bank loans for the construction and development of suburbs on the condition that the sale of the homes in that suburb be restricted by race. Deeds to these homes also included racial restrictive covenants prohibiting resale of the home to people of a certain race.

In 1948 the Supreme Court deemed all racial restrictive covenants unenforceable. Despite this ruling, developers and realtors continued to include racial restrictive covenants in deeds until 1968, when the FHA outlawed these covenants altogether.

“Racial covenants are no longer enforceable, but the language lingers in many of our property records, potentially encouraging racist sentiments,” Johnson said. “Striking these discriminatory provisions from our records would show we are committed to undoing the historical harms done to Black and Brown communities.”

House Bill 58 passed the Senate Thursday with bipartisan support.