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It's been a long time since I retired as executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center. Needless to say, I was concerned about the future of the center and the communities it serves. The recent recognition of Oak Park as a top suburb in the metropolitan area and the nation points to the conscientious leadership and vision of the present executive director, Rob Breymaier. How fortunate we are to have Rob creatively dealing with the always-present challenge to Oak Park. Just in the past month or so we have seen:
1) Oak Park named as top suburb in the Chicago area by the Reader.
2) Oak Park named as one of the best 10 places in the country to raise a family.
3) Oak Park singled out by Myron Orfield, of the Brookings Institute and University of Minnesota in a study identifying diverse suburbs intervening in the process in which communities change from all white to all black.
The naysayers will point to the policies of the Housing Center that encourage a move that contributes to racial diversity and cast off the entire east side of Oak Park as undesirable.
Maybe they haven't taken a good look at how beautiful the blocks are from Austin to Ridgeland. They are willing to let resegregation take place.
But luckily, most Oak Parkers understand the importance of the Housing Center continuing to intervene and keep all of Oak Park diverse.
Let's support the Housing Center — the agency that originated the policies now nationally recognized as critical to our success.
We need the center more than ever before as we face the next 40 years.
Roberta L. Raymond
Founder and executive director, Oak Park Housing Center, 1972-1997