Wilmette Cares has arrived at the one-year mark of our existence. A handful of Wilmette friends held their first meeting in June, 2013. We gathered around a table to determine what we could do to achieve more affordable housing in our village. Within the hour, we made a commitment that led to twelve months of non-stop research, planning, and action to see our mission come to life. Now we are eager to share with you what we have done, why we did it, and what results have come about thus far. Below is the Annual Report we submitted at our first annual meeting on June 24, 2014.
WHAT WE DID
⌂ We gathered empirical data regarding the need for and benefits of affordable housing in Wilmette.
⌂ We reviewed Village documents that address affordable housing needs including the Master Plan for the Village.
⌂ We began a vigorous advocacy for the retention of the Housing Assistance Program (HAP), a 34-year old Village program that subsidizes mortgage, tax, and rent payments for 27 households. We attended several Board meetings where we stated our position that the Village should fully fund HAP.
⌂ We held an Open Forum, made several presentations to community groups, developed a website, and distributed an informational brochure.
⌂ We started two petitions, one to show support for full Village funding of HAP, the other to urge the Village to follow through on its affordable housing goals.
WHY WE DID IT
⌂ We wanted to assess the status of and demand for affordable housing in Wilmette. We wanted to understand how an increase in such housing might affect our Village.
⌂ We wanted to know what plans the Village has to meet the housing needs of seniors, persons with disabilities, and families with moderate incomes who want to remain in Wilmette despite rising housing costs.
⌂ We learned that the Board of Trustees was preparing to cut the funding from the budget, some cuts being immediate, and that by mid-2016, no funds would be made available from the general fund for this program.
⌂ We wanted to share our mission with the larger community, regularly updating them on our actions, and hearing their questions, views, and concerns.
⌂ We need to have a clearer idea of the current level of support for our mission and we want to partner with those who would like to support our efforts.
⌂ We discovered that 2,613 Wilmette residents live with a disability, 649 live in poverty, and over 40% are age 60 or above. There is a long and growing waiting list for the existing affordable housing units in our Village.
⌂ We learned that in 2003, the Village— following State of Illinois guidelines— set a goal of 15% affordable housing units in all multi-family developments, but has since taken no concrete action.
⌂ Subsequent to our advocacy efforts, the Board President appointed an ad hoc committee to define options for private funding. The committee recommended the formation of a 501c3 organization. The Trustees have made no official decision on the matter.
⌂ We learned that most of the residents with whom we have made contact are unaware of HAP specifically, or of our need for more affordable housing.
⌂ We have just begun to circulate the petitions, so there are no meaningful results at this time.
We had a self-evaluation meeting to asses our progress and review our mission. Recognizing that we are now at a stage that requires more structure in order to enhance our capabilities and effectiveness, we have resolved to take two actions: to present bylaws for approval by the membership, and to elect a board of directors and officers. Wilmette Cares is currently applying for non-profit status. Open Communities, the catalyst for our formation, retains the role of fiscal agent and technical advisor to Wilmette Cares.
Until now, our expenditures have been minimal and been met by out-of-pocket and in-kind contributions from our volunteer members. As we begin to enlarge the scale of our activities, we thank the following donors for their generosity and support:
– Open Communities
– The Sally Mead Hands Foundation
– The Woman’s Club of Wilmette
We will focus on raising awareness throughout Wilmette: the Village Board and staff, community groups, and among ourselves. A grant from the Sally Mead Hands Foundation will support a comprehensive outreach plan and Open Forum that will invite into dialogue all key constituencies in our Village. It will also facilitate the development and delivery of educational programs, including the production of an informational video featuring personal stories of Wilmette residents. We will implement two vigorous petition campaigns, one in support of full Village funding for HAP, the other to urge the Village to follow through on its affordable housing goals.
go to all who have supported us in away way over this past year: David Borris, Lisa Braganca, Gerald Buster, Susan Connor, Kathy Cornyn, Spencer Cowan, Elizabeth Drake, Gail Forsberg, Carmen Garcia Ruiz, Juliet Gentzkow, Rich Goodwin, Susan Gregory, William Johnson, Ericha Johnson, Ann Jonaitis, Dan Kaplan, Jack Kelly, Jan Mahler, Lorelei McClure, Ed McManus, Ellen McManus, Laura McManus, Sherry Medwin, Charlotte Melzer, Norm Nexon, Betty Phillips, Viki Rivkin, Brendan Saunders, Mary Ann Savard, Gail Schechter, Jes Scheinpflug, Mary Jane Schmit, Puran Stevens, and John Yaworsky.