I live on Wesley, just north of Madison, and I was shocked by this proposal. Even more so, what kind of Kool-Aid was the village board drinking when they voted to send this proposal to the planning commission? Maybe they just wanted to pass this hot potato to another place.
I personally resent anyone on the village board insinuating that, because residents are against this proposal, they sound like “racists.” I am white, 74 years old, and have spent most of my adult life working for racial justice and political power for powerless people. I’ve worked in the “project” both politically and to ensure fair elections. I worked on the West Side for many years to break the hold of the Democratic machine. I co-ran the campaigns of Jesse Madison, Earlean Collins, Arthur Turner and Danny Davis. I coordinated the five West Side wards for Harold Washington. No one can dare call me a “racist.”
But I know the reality of who will reside in this proposed housing development. How many people on the Oak Park Housing Authority waiting list are people who have vouchers from the Chicago Housing Authority and want to transfer them into Oak Park? I read the literature regarding this group, and they state that some of their renters are former substance abuses, some are mentally affected people, single mothers — but the common denominator is mainly poor people stacked together in one building. Every urban study regarding putting poor people together has shown that it ends in disaster. Every person who will be “eligible” will bring their personal “baggage” with them. Kids will be culture shocked by a very different environment. It will bring drugs, crime and instability in our schools that are already challenged. I for one would be afraid to walk to the store or just enjoy the life we have had in Oak Park.
The village board and the plan commission owe nothing to Chicago. There are many more places in Chicago for this organization to develop their housing. The Oak Park government is responsible to the people of this village only. We were an easy mark for this organization. They looked at little old liberal Oak Park and licked their lips.