CHICAGO — A new Illinois law, which went into effect Jan. 1, lets homeowners request the removal of racist language from property deeds.
The change takes place decades after the language was outlawed.
In the 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer case, the U.S. Supreme Court found restrictive covenants in property deeds that prohibited the sale of property to people of color violated the 14th Amendment, according to the Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute. And the Fair Housing Act expanded on civil rights legislation to prohibit discrimination during the sale, rental and financial of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability.
The new law, Public Act 102-0110, allows homeowners with discriminatory language in their deeds to file a restrictive covenant modification for just $10 with the State's Attorney, who will then have 30 days to review then either approve and file the modification to the deed or deny it.
Due to the change, restrictive covenants barring Black people from owning a property or labeling properties "white only" can be edited more easily, according to WBEZ reporting.
State Sen. Adriane Johnson, a Buffalo Grove Democrat, was among the law's sponsors. She said the racist covenants aren't enforceable but making it simpler to edit them is "another way of righting the wrongs from the past."