Health and Housing

Substandard housing or inadequately maintained buildings are breeding grounds for indoor health hazards, including pests and mold, which can lead to health conditions such as asthma or lead poisoning. Tenants are entitled to a housing unit that meets an acceptable level of health and safety and can request reasonable accommodations or reasonable modifications to fulfill these standards or be released from their lease under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Who is Eligible

Any households with a Housing Choice Voucher and with at least one member suffering from a chronic health condition that qualifies as a disability can apply for reasonable accommodations to address the substandard housing condition. 

Why Apply

Tenants can receive assistance with ensuring that their landlord alleviates the substandard housing condition or assistance with being released from a lease or rental agreement.   

To Apply For

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Discrimination in Housing:

Discrimination in housing is prohibited on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, disability, familial status, unfavorable military discharge, sexual orientation, parental status, or source of income.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Disability is defined as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, the person has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.

Reasonable accommodations are a change, exception, or adjustment to a rule, policy, or practice. Reasonable modifications are structural changes made to an existing premises occupied by a person with a disability.  More information on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act is here.

Bed Bugs:

Bed bugs are small, flat, wingless insects that feed on blood. They tend to live on mattresses or other parts of a bed and can be found in homes, condominiums, apartments, hotels, schools, dormitories, shelters, and offices. More information on bed bugs is here (in Spanish; Chinese; Polish)

In 2013, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance to address bed bugs. The ordinance requires, in part, that landlords provide information on bed bugs when signing a new rental agreement that outlines the responsibilities and rights of tenants and landlords. For example, tenants must notify a landlord of a suspected bed bug infestation within five (5) days and the landlord is responsible for providing and paying for pest control services. The ordinance also requires any individual disposing of infested material to enclose the material in a labeled, plastic bag.

For more information and to read the full ordinance, click here.

To file a complaint in Chicago with the Department of Buildings regarding a bed bug infestation go to this website and fill out your address. 


Asthma affects over 17.3 million children and adults in the United States. Substandard housing conditions that can trigger asthma include dust, rodents, and inadequate ventilation. Click here for more information on asthma policies in Chicago Public Schools. For immediate assistance regarding a child’s asthma needs, contact the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at (773) 553-1800.

Families should also develop an asthma action plan with their healthcare provider. An asthma action plan should include: (1) appropriate use of medications (control and reliever); (2) what actions to take when a child is having symptoms of asthma or a low peak flow reading; (3) signs of an asthma attack; (4) when to seek emergency care; (5) emergency contact information. Click here for examples of asthma action plans.

Lead Poisoning:

Lead poisoning can cause reading and learning disabilities, developmental delays, behavior problems, impaired hearing, and hyperactivity. Nearly one-million preschoolers have elevated levels of lead in their blood and the most common source of lead exposure is paint and lead dust in older homes. Click here for information on lead poisoning.

The Residential and Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 requires most landlords to inform tenants about the health effects of lead exposure and to alert them to the presence of lead-based paint in the home. Click here for information on the Lead Disclosure Rule.

Links to Important Resources

Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act.

Chicago Public Schools' asthma policies.

Examples of asthma action plans.

City of Chicago Bed Bugs information.

City of Chicago Bed Bugs ordinance. 

More information on lead poisoning.

Information on lead in drinking water.

More information on the Lead Disclosure Rule.

Topics: Housing
Tags: Housing, Bed Bugs, Mold, Lead Paint
Last updated July 18, 2019

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