Rob Breymaier Confirmed to Speak on MSNBC

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY -- Pictured: Melissa Harris-Perry, Anchor -- Photo by: Heidi Gutman/MSNBC

We are excited to announce that Housing Center Executive Director, Rob Breymaier, has been confirmed to be on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show this Sunday! He will discuss the importance of integration in our nation’s communities. We are thrilled that Rob has been invited to speak to a national audience on this vital issue! Be sure to tune in Sunday morning from 9a – 11a!

Sunday, April 20
9:00a – 11:00a CST

The Fair Housing Act in 2014


April is Fair Housing Month – a time to reflect on the passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Even though the policy was signed forty-six years ago, it is still very relevant today. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was a landmark policy that demonstrated the importance of furthering open and inclusive communities. Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Act was enacted in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King tirelessly advocated for an end to housing discrimination and a law that would support fair and open housing. Everyday housing advocates honor his life’s work by furthering his dream of equal rights and social justice. Though we have progressed as a nation, there is work to be done to truly achieve Dr. King’s dream.

Through the work of community leaders, the housing sector is becoming more inclusive. The original act prohibited housing discrimination against residents on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. In a 1989 amendment, the protected classes of persons with disabilities and families with children were added. Over the years, state and local jurisdictions have adopted other protected classes to further the mission of fair housing and enable a more equal housing market.

Unfortunately, housing discrimination still occurs today. While discrimination is not as blatant and ubiquitous as it was prior to the Fair Housing Act – think redlining and blockbusting – it continues to persist. Some realtors show houses in specific neighborhoods based on their clients’ race. Some banks charge higher interest rates on loans for minorities. Advertisements for rental units sometimes encourage certain groups of people to apply or exclude other groups. The Fair Housing Act is still needed to combat housing discrimination.

Segregation has permeated the nation’s cities for many years, and ending a deep and complex problem takes time. The Fair Housing Act includes a clause that affirmatively furthers fair housing, which aims to tackle historic segregation patterns. Affirmatively furthering fair housing provides better access to opportunities by promoting diverse and inclusive communities. It intends to reduce discrimination through open housing options for people of color as well as persons with disabilities.

To adhere to the clause to affirmatively further fair housing, communities that receive government funding must create a fair housing action plan to promote equal and diverse housing opportunities for residents. This section of the Fair Housing Act is an essential part of the mission of fair housing, but has lacked clear guidelines and little enforcement. In 2013, an updated rule aims to help municipalities affirmatively further fair housing through the use of assessment tools and public data. The new and improved clause provides a proactive approach to developing inclusive communities. This updated rule demonstrates that the nation still needs accountability and assistance in order to provide fair and open housing.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was a landmark policy that demonstrated the importance of furthering open and inclusive communities. This April, there is much to celebrate from the past forty-six years, but there is also more work to be done. Fair Housing Month reminds us of both of these things as we continue in the fair housing movement.

By Casey Griffith, Research and Outreach Coordinator

Twenty Five Year Reflection of Fair Housing Act Amendment of 1989

wheelchair accessible housing_by Kim Brookes

Fair and open housing for all people is essential for America to continue being the land of opportunity. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 gave the federal government the authority to hold communities accountable to end discriminatory practices and, along with the 14th amendment, to end state-action discrimination.  Although this legislation made great inroads in fair housing, the 1968 act did not include all groups in the community, including those that are disabled and/or those with differences of familial status.

So, in 1989 the federal government wrote up legislation on behalf of these individuals and amended the Fair Housing Act to include those community members. Granting these newly protected classes equal access to housing benefits the entire community. People with disabilities contribute to our communities and deserve the same dignity and respect that other residents have. They have the innate right to be integrated into all neighborhoods. These ideals also apply to families with children and single-parent households. Children can greatly enhance the vibrancy and character of a community and, due to their vulnerability, especially need decent housing in quality neighborhoods.

The act could not have been amended any time sooner.  Twenty five years ago, we were living in a society that was progressively taking a more inclusionary stance with community members who fall under the amended category.  One wonders about the big picture question as to what caused the movement towards inclusion. Was it the legislation that moved us in that direction? Or was it the collective impact of fair housing organizations on our civic leaders? Both efforts were necessary to allow these two groups to become integrated within the community.

When we take a moment to focus on our individual lives, we realize that we have all been impacted by these two groups in one way or another. Indeed, we must continue to promote the open and equal opportunity for these groups to join our community. It is 2014 and we have reached a very important point in fair housing history and community involvement to continue to foster the inclusion of households with children and people with disabilities.

We all come from various backgrounds and are going to be hard-pressed to find a neighborhood composed of only one demography. So in a step to accept the wonderful diversity that our society offers, we should be inclusive of people with disabilities and differing familial status in our community. We have the legislation as members of our society, take a personal stance to be more neighborly to all members of our community.

By Jose O’Campo, Research Assistant at Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance

Photo by Kim Brookes

Intersections Art Fair Coming to Oak Park!

OPRHC logo

Celebrating the Arts & Diversity
July 12, 2014

intersections art fairIntersections is a juried one-day art fair  providing artists with the unique opportunity to showcase work that expresses, embraces, and celebrates cultural and artistic diversity. Using art as a platform for exchange, dialogue, and sharing of personal histories, Intersections seeks participating artists and makers committed to the value of the creative process as a means of expanding our understanding of one another.  Sponsored by the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, Intersections promotes the value of the arts in society, specifically within the multi-cultural environment of Oak Park.  With a history of supporting equal housing opportunities and encouraging diversity through various public programs, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center is dedicated to promoting the role of the arts in celebrating our differences.

Partnering with the Pleasant Home, The Oak Park Regional Housing Center will provide artists with a National Historic outdoor venue highlighting Oak Park’s architectural legacy to showcase their work, philosophy/mission, and process as well as opportunities to interact with supporters of the arts. This is a wonderful event for both artists and art organizations to promote diverse approaches of the creative process. The park is nestled in a tree shaded location adjacent to exquisite dining experiences for both vendors and visitors. Oak Park is located just 10 miles west of downtown Chicago and is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.  An affluent community of working professionals, Oak Park is an ideal venue for artists/organizations seeking to expand their audience of collectors and supporters. Select artists will be featured in a syndicated publication by the Tribune with an audience of 10,000. All artists will be provided with postcards for direct mailing and digital graphics for on-line promotion.  Additional marketing by both the Pleasant Home and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center will ensure a healthy attendance at a desirable summer time location.

The show is open to all artists 18 years and older.

Artists working in all media are encouraged to apply. The jurying processes will insure a well-rounded event that promotes a diverse range of unique artists and groups.

Set Up & Cost
Application Fee:  $35.00
Individual Rate:  $125
Shared Booth (up to 2 artists): $150
Non-profit/Organization info booth (inside the Pleasant Home): $100

This one-day event is completely outdoors. RAIN OR SHINE. All booths are 10’x10’ and include 2 chairs and a table.  Artists will supply their own tent canopies or rent a canopy for an additional fee (discounted rental fees will be available for artists using a preferred vendor). Shared booths can either be arranged by the Oak Park Regional Housing Center or by a collective group of artists applying as one group at the time of application. Artists are responsible for providing all exhibition material including any mounting or support panels. Please note that there will be limited access to electricity.

Information tables that are placed inside the Pleasant home are only for displaying marketing materials and/or providing a location for direct person-to-person outreach. Art work will not be permitted to be displayed within the Pleasant Home.

Artists are not charged a commission on their sales and retain the right to keep 100% of sale proceeds of any work sold during the event. No multiple booth discounts.

Application Process
Artists/Exhibitors must submit the following:

  • Artist Statement/Mission/Description of how the work fits into the theme, etc.
  • 10-20 images of representative work (72 dpi, no larger than 1200 pixels in any direction—higher resolution files will be needed for marketing purposes if selected)
  • Image list detailing sizes/scale of work to be exhibited, materials and processes, etc.
  • Signed application form
  • Application payment of $35 (via PayPal or personal check made out to Oak Park Regional Housing Center)

Materials may be submitted either electronically or by mail with images placed onto a CD to Oak Park Regional Housing Center, 1041 South Boulevard, Oak Park IL 60302. E-mail any questions and submissions to: with the subject line “Intersections”.  Directions regarding on-line payments will follow electronic submissions.

Schedule of Events
Application Deadline:  May 1, 2014
Notification Date:  May 15, 2014
Registration and Non-Refundable Deposit Deadline: June 1, 2014
Marketing Material Out to Artists: June 15, 2014
Event date:  July 12, 2014

pleasant home

Woodstock Institute Connects Data to Community

woodstock 4

The Woodstock Institute recently launched a data portal for Chicago and the six-county region. The portal allows users to view data on foreclosures, mortgage lending, occupancy rates, income, and employment. Excited for this new tool, we wanted to try out the portal for ourselves. We decided to analyze the Chicago communities with the highest and lowest vacancy rates. The issue of vacant properties is important because vacancies have increased since the foreclosure crisis and are harmful for neighborhoods. Related problems include safety concerns, health risks, and lower property values. Further, discrimination has occurred across the country in minority neighborhoods. The National Fair Housing Alliance found that some major banks that own foreclosures do not maintain the properties in minority neighborhoods as well as they do in white communities.

Observing 2012 vacancy rates in Chicago, the three community areas with the highest rates are: Riverdale (27.8%), South Chicago (16%), and Englewood (15%). The three community areas with the lowest rates are: Forest Glen (.9%), Norwood Park (1.7%), and Armour Square (1.8%). We used the data portal to learn about different aspects of the neighborhoods and found stark differences between the community areas on opposite sides of the vacancy rate spectrum.

Forest Glen and Norwood Park have similar demographics. Both are located on the Northwest side of the city, are majority white communities, and have a large number of homeowners. Out of the six communities examined, they have the highest average household incomes. In fact, Forest Glen has the largest number of high-income residents and the fewest low-income residents, and there is a $36,000 difference between Norwood Park and the third highest income in the group. Armour Square is a majority Asian community and includes Chinatown in its borders. It has a high rental rate and has the fourth highest average household income of the six communities.  Forest Glen, Norwood Park, and Armour Square all have low foreclosure rates and the long-term vacancy rates are less than 50%. The high rental rate may explain the low rates in Armour Square but more information would be needed to support that theory. Many mortgage applications were accepted, showing that people are purchasing homes in these areas.

The neighborhoods of Riverdale, South Chicago, and Englewood look vastly different from the other communities.  All three areas are majority black and high rental communities, and are located on the South side of the city. Riverdale and Englewood have the lowest average household incomes of the six neighborhoods analyzed, and South Chicago has the third highest average household income.  Riverdale has the lowest number of high-income residents and the largest number of low-income residents. Englewood and South Chicago have relatively high foreclosure rates, which is especially interesting because they are high rental communities. The data shows, however, that many multi-family buildings have been foreclosed in the neighborhoods. In Englewood, more multi-family buildings than single-family homes went into foreclosure. The number of foreclosures in South Chicago were approximately even between multi-family and single-family buildings. Additionally, the long-term vacancy rates for all three neighborhoods are 65% or higher. Few people are buying homes in these three communities – most mortgage applications have been denied, if they were submitted at all. In Englewood and South Chicago, many mortgage applications have been denied since 2007. Beginning in 2008, few applications have been submitted in Riverdale and the majority of those submitted in 2008 were denied.

The vivid pictures described in these six neighborhood profiles reveal much about a larger story of inequality that is present in Chicago. The community areas with very high or very low vacancy rates have other defining characteristics revolved around race, income, and occupancy rates. Chicago is a large urban area and its problems are complex.  Woodstock Institute’s data portal is a useful tool to identify and examine community issues. Its user-friendly portal pulls from multiple sources to help users easily work with data. The portal is a great asset for Chicago and the six-county region, and will benefit community leaders as they use the data to create positive change!

Access the Woodstock Institute’s data portal here.

By Casey Griffith, Research and Outreach Coordinator