The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said they are reviewing requests to remove illegal segregation clauses that remain in some property deeds in Lake County.
House Bill 58, which was sponsored by State Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove, and State Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, took effect at the beginning of the year.
The law allows individuals, condominium associations, unit owners’ associations and other property owners to remove segregation clauses from covenants in their deeds by submitting a request to the local county recorder.
Lake County’s first filing under the law occurred on Tuesday with the Lake County 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 the 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 clauses from covenants in West Shore Park, the Mundelein subdivision where she lives.
Sullivan spoke with her state legislators, Didech and Johnson, 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,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said on Tuesday.
“Our office looks forward to helping the Recorder and residents in utilizing this fantastic tool,” Rinehart said.
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 before the Civil Rights movement eliminated such segregation policies.
The racially-restrictive covenants are everywhere, most leftover from the first half of the last century when “white flight” to the suburbs spurred the restrictions, Didech said.
“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.
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.