The Real Deal Chicago

Brinshore’s background check policy discriminates against black renters, lawsuit claims

A man filed suit after being turned down from renting in a Brinshore building because of an 18-year-old robbery conviction

October 25, 2018 10:00AM

Brinshore Development CEO David Brint and the Park Apartments (Credit: Brinshore)

Brinshore Development’s policy of not renting to those with convictions in the past 25 years amounts to housing discrimination, a new federal lawsuit argues.

The Northbrook-based developer is being sued by a man who said he was turned down from renting in a Brinshore apartment building on the South Side because of a conviction from 18 years ago, according to Crain’s.

Brinshore’s policy may not be discriminatory at face value, but the practice has the effect of discrimination because it mostly impacts African-Americans, the suit alleges. African-Americans make up about 15 percent of the state’s population but more than 57 percent of all state inmates, according to the suit.

Federal housing laws protect against policies that appear to be neutral but in practice have a “disparate impact on the basis of race,” according to the lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court. Housing & Urban Development guidelines suggest landlords use a period of the last two years as the standard for conviction-based denials.

The man who’s suing, 50-year-old Victor Adams Jr., served three years for armed robbery nearly two decades ago and has since gone to college and started a family. He is represented by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, according to Crain’s.

Brinshore, established in 1994, has a portfolio of more than 6,500 residential units valued at more than $1 billion, according to its website.

The company recently teamed with a Southwest Side nonprofit to spend $7 million rehabbing 15 vacant buildings totaling over 50 units. Brinshore has also recently teamed with Michaels Development Company on plans to build a 164-unit complex in Bronzeville. [Crain’s] — Joe Ward