A new law allowing homeowners to have racist clauses removed from covenants in their deeds went into effect Jan. 1, and Lake County’s first filing under the law occurred Tuesday.
After being filed with the Recorder of Deeds Office, the request will now be reviewed by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office to ensure it meets legal requirements under the new law, which allows removal of language restricting who could buy a property based on race.
“It’s so gross we have this document associated with our properties,” said Nicole Sullivan, the first Lake County resident to submit a formal request for the removal of the offending clauses from covenants (terms agreed upon in relation to a loan agreement) in West Shore Park, the Mundelein subdivision where she lives.
Sullivan spoke with her state legislators, State Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove and State Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, who then sponsored a bill that created the law.
“Thank you to Ms. Sullivan, Representative Didech, and Senator Johnson for working together to build a law that works to remove the stain of racism from our legal documents,” State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Tuesday. “Our office looks forward to helping the Recorder and residents in utilizing this fantastic tool.”
Sullivan said officials with the Homeowners Association of the West Shoreland subdivision are also seeking to have similar language removed.
Both subdivisions are located along Diamond Lake. The documents in question were drawn up in the 1920s era, well before the Civil Rights movement eliminated such segregation policies.
The racially-restrictive covenants are everywhere, most left over from the first half of the last century when “white flight” to the suburbs spurred the restrictions, Didech said Tuesday.
“The persistence of these covenants can send a message to people that they aren’t welcome in this neighborhood, and people could be wondering if there are going to be problems if I move here,” he said.
“People don’t know this language is still in their property deed. You can make a difference with your voice if you do it,” Johnson said, referring to making requests for amendments.
In Sullivan’s case, the covenants include the prohibition of African-Americans, Chinese, Japanese, and Jewish residents, with the exception of “servants” working for the homeowner.
“These laws are illegal and unenforceable and yet they have not been removed from your home,” Sullivan said.
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