The CFHO was originally passed by the City Council on September 11, 1963. In its original form, it covered only real estate brokers, who were at that time licensed by the City of Chicago. On August 12, 1968, following a lawsuit brought by the Chicago Real Estate Board charging that the ordinance was unconstitutional as it related solely to brokers, the ordinance was amended to extend coverage to owners and other individuals having the right to sell or rent housing accommodations. The Fair Housing Ordinance was again amended on December 26, 1971 to ban discrimination based upon sex. Marital status was thereafter added as a protected class in an amendment passed June 6, 1973. Disabled persons were later added in an amendment passed on January 19, 1979.
In 1990, the Chicago Fair Housing and Human Rights Ordinances were substantially amended. The "new" ordinances gave the CCHR increased powers to investigate and adjudicate complaints of discrimination. These new powers include the authority to issue subpoenas and hold administrative hearings through which damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees can be awarded and fines levied.