Wilmette Cares is a grassroots campaign of Wilmette residents whose mission is to advocate for affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing in the Village of Wilmette. Open Communities is providing technical assistance and support.
Wilmette Cares initially organized in 2013 to promote affordable and physically accessible housing set-asides in new downtown multi-family developments, such as at 611 Green Bay Road, across the street from the Metra station, a perfect site for affordable housing and in keeping with Wilmette’s official affordable housing plan.
Supporting the Housing Assistance Program
Wilmette Cares is also working to save Wilmette’s Housing Assistance Program (HAP), founded in 1982 to assist low-income seniors and families with permanent disabilities to remain in the Village through housing support payments. The Village voted unanimously to “restructure” the $45,000 program in 2014, essentially phasing out the rental assistance entirely (70% of the 21 current participants), in the name of balancing the Village’s $30 million budget.
Open Communities delivered formal testimony in favor of the Housing Assistance Program, joining over 30 Wilmette Cares supporters at the Village Board meeting.
Lisa Russell and her family, including their daughter with disabilities, are all together thanks to HAP. She shared a heartfelt open letter to the Trustees of the Village of Wilmette to support the program, adding that:
One of the things we most value about Wilmette is its neighborliness… A healthy community values all its members and does its best to support, affirm, and learn from them. We are all enriched when we welcome and affirm diversity.
But the Village is moving forward to reduce the program. Read the Village of Wilmette’s synopsis of HAP and its 2013 Resolution to end general support for it, which passed the Village Board unanimously on October 8, 2013.
Through policy advocacy, community education on the benefits of an economically diverse Wilmette, and humanitarian appeals to neighbors, Wilmette Cares hopes to preserve and expand this important program, as well as promote accessible, fair, and affordable housing.