HOPE for Housing:
Meeting the Moment in Housing Justice

Save the Date and join us for our annual fair housing conference, HOPE for Housing: Meeting the Moment in Housing Justice.

For the first time in 3 years, we will be hosting our fair housing conference in person.

Join us for the opportunity to hear from dynamic speakers, trending fair housing topics, and networking opportunities.

More information to follow, so stay tuned!

Interested in sponsoring the event? Take a look at our conference sponsorship proposal here.  Contact HOPE Director of Outreach, Events and Fundraising Nafia Khan by phone at (630) 690-6500, x122 or emailing HOPE here

Keynote Speaker 

Our featured keynote speaker at HOPE's 2023 Annual Fair Housing Conference will by Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Jim Bennett. He will be joined by IDHR Fair Housing Director Steven Monroy.

About Director Bennett:

James (Jim) Bennett, was appointed Illinois Department of Human Rights Director (IDHR) by Governor JB Pritzker in January 2019. As Director, he is responsible for overseeing the agency's primary goals to prohibit discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, military service or unfavorable discharge in connection with employment opportunities, housing and real estate transactions, access to financial credit and the availability of public services and public accommodations. In addition, the IDHR oversees charges of sexual harassment.

During his tenure, the Department has convened State agencies and advocates issuing guidance affirming nondiscrimination in matters related to Covid-19. Under Bennett's leadership, the Training Institute developed, piloted and launched new training that advance knowledge and understanding of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and implicit bias. IDHR also continues to modernize infrastructure for every aspect of work, including a new case management system which will dramatically improve the efficiency of the investigative process and will be more customer friendly

In April 2021 Governor Pritzker appointed Bennett as Chair of the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. Convening subject matter experts, community leaders, law enforcement, and State agencies and constitutional offices, the Commission serves to investigate the root causes of hate crimes, how Illinois responds to incidents, and what we, collectively, need to do differently in the future to ensure all communities have the tools needed to combat hate crimes and discrimination.

Prior to his role in IDHR, Bennett served as the Midwest Regional Director at Lambda Legal, the nation's largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV. During his 12-year career there, Bennett was a lead strategist in Lambda Legal Illinois and Iowa marriage campaigns and successfully fought Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and their discriminatory 'religious refusal' laws. In 2013, he chaired Illinois Unites for Marriage, the statewide coalition that led the successful effort to win marriage equality in Illinois. As a result of his leadership, Illinois led the way in recognizing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and in standing firm against efforts to roll back antidiscrimination laws. Jim's integrity and commitment to justice make him a perfect fit to lead the agency charged with enforcing Illinois' laws ensuring fair treatment for all.

Prior to his marriage equality campaign work, Bennett served as acting senior external affairs director at Howard Brown Health, marketing and development director at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and several roles at the American Red Cross national and central Illinois regional offices.

Bennett was inducted into the City of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2013, was the recipient of Equality Illinois' Freedom award in 2018 and was inducted into the Steve and Sandi Adams Legacy Hall of Fame at Illinois State University in 2015. He received his Bachelor of Science from Illinois State University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Don't miss out.
Register by April 10th to get the early bird special. We look forward to seeing you there.
2023 Conference Schedule 
9-10 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast
10-10:40 am
Welcome from HOPE Fair Housing Center Executive Dirctor Michael Chavarria
Welcome from Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns
Spoken Word Performance: Eric Sirota, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
10:40-10:50 am
10:50 am-         12:05 pm
Breakout Session 1, Option #1 - Real Estate Appraisals: Identifying and Responding to Bias 
HOPE's Special Projects and Grants Manager Blake Mitchell will take a look at a real estate appraisal report commissioned by HOPE Fair Housing Center. He will be joined by Falon Young of NHS Chicago, who is a sister organization of HOPE doing work around appraisal bias. Learn how to identify instances of bias in real estate appraisals and discover strategies for confronting this discriminatory practice that continues to hold back homeowners of color.
10:50 am-         12:05 pm
Breakout Session 1, Option #2 -  Evictions without Convictions: The Problem with Crime-Free Housing Ordinances
Many municipalities across the country, and especially in Illinois, have Crime-Free and Nuisance Property Ordinances. These policies often impose strict penalties by forcing landlords to evict their tenants without just cause or face steep financial penalties. Join our expert panel, including Allison Bethel with UIC Law, Neeley Erickson with the Illinois Association of Realtors and Emily Coffey with Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights to learn how these ordinances can displace families, impact the sustainability of the rental housing market, and violate fair housing and other civil rights laws.
12:05 pm -            12:15 pm
12:15 - 1:45 pm

Spoken Word Performance: Eric Sirota, Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Awards Ceremony:
Fair Housing Hero: Gianna Baker, Co-Executive Director, Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance
Fair Housing Legislative Champions:  IL State Representative La Shawn Ford and
IL State Senator Ram Villivalam

Keynote Speakers: IL Department on Human Rights Director Jim Bennett &
Fair Housing Counsel Steven Monroy
1:45 - 1:55 pm
1:55-3:10 pm
Breakout Session 2, Option #1 - The Scarlet “E”: The Human Costs and Liability of Relying on Eviction Data
In Illinois, 72 families lose their residences everyday, putting them in an endless cycle of poverty, experiencing roadblocks to accessing their human rights to housing, food, healthcare, and safety.

In particular, folks of color disproportionately suffer the debilitating impacts of losing their homes far greater than their white counterparts in the United States. National Housing Law Project’s Kate Walz and Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights' MacKenzie Speer will discuss with the audience how we can address some of these systemic barriers as well as lessen the burden for IL residents experiencing housing instability.  
1:55-3:10 pm
Breakout Session 2, Option #2 - Landlord Engagement:
How to Make Fair Housing a Business Priority
For many individuals utilizing subsidies to cover the cost of housing, developing positive relationships with housing providers feels impossible. Learn from Heartland Continuum of Care's Nick Dodson, NAHREP DuPage County's Mabel Guzman and RAMP-CIL's Eric Brown on how some statewide housing advocates establish real meaningful connections with housing providers to ensure individuals experiencing barriers to stable housing can secure a certain future.
3:10-3:20 pm
3:20-4:35 PM
Breakout Session 3, Option #1 - The Ideal Renter: Strategies for Building a Rental Resumé
For individuals accessing housing, eviction filings, arrest and conviction history and status as a voucherholder presents as barriers to accessing housing. Check out this session led by Housing Choice Partners' Samantha Dewberry and Karon Liggett, and Jim Haisler with Heartland Realtors Organization on how to sell yourself to a prospective housing provider or landlord. 
3:20-4:35 PM
Breakout Session 3, Option #2 - Fair Housing at the Intersections: 
Case Studies on Housing Discrimination against People with Disabilities
Access Living's Ken Walden dives into what protections exist for the Disability community along with initiatives in Illinois aimed at curbing problematic practices. Examine case law that has shaped the field of disability housing rights and where we’re headed in the way of full housing discrimination protection for the Disability community.
4:35-4:45 PM
4:45-5 PM
Conference Location
 Riverside Receptions, 35 River Ln, Geneva, IL 60134.

HOPE's Annual Conference will be held at the beautiful Riverside Receptions in Geneva, Illinois.
Information on the City of Geneva may be found
Conference Sponsors
HOPE Fair Housing Center is proud to partner with the following companies to bring you its 2023 Annual Conference.


Zillow Group
Soule, Bradtke and Lambert
Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS

Midland States Bank

Core Financial Outsourcing
Heartland REALTORS Organizations
National Association of REALTORS
Patricia Mathis, HOPE Board Treasurer
Alton "Jay" Mitchell, Former HOPE Board President
Need a hotel accommodation?
If you plan on arriving the night before, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Comfort Inn & Suites Geneva-West Chicago. You can choose to reserve for 1 or 2 nights, depending on your preference. To receive a discounted rate, please use the link below or call the hotel directly. Please book before May 6th, to ensure you receive the discounted rate. 

Comfort Inn & Suites Geneva-West Chicago - 1555 E Fabyan Parkway, Geneva, IL 60134
Phone Number: 630-208-8811
Hotel Link:
News & Updates
Check back here for confirmed speakers and other information on the event agenda as soon as they become available!

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