Oak Park flunks rental housing discrimination test

Study: African Americans and disabled not receiving fair treatment


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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Despite Oak Park's reputation as among the "few truly integrated communities in the Chicago metro area," a new report commissioned by the village government shows a "startling" level of discrimination in the village's rental housing market against racial minorities and people with disabilities.

The fair housing testing report was prepared by HOPE Fair Housing Center, a non-profit which works to eliminate housing discrimination. The report, received by village staff in late January, compares the treatment of pairs of testers -- white versus African American rental applicants as well as the treatment of those with hearing disabilities.

African American applicants were offered fewer visits to available rental units by leasing agents. They also had fewer phone calls returned by apartment management firms, compared to their white counterparts. African American applicants also were given less information concerning rental terms, "and in some cases representatives made discouraging statements to them rather than the encouraging and positive remarks made to white testers."

The report shows that in paired testing of sixteen applicants, more than twice as many white applicants were shown units. Eleven applicants shown units were white, while five were African American.

"This represents 79 percent of white testers, (11 of 14), versus just 33 percent of African-American testers (5 of 15)," the report states. "This is a significant and insidious finding, as an African-American individual or family contacting a representative in Oak Park seeking rental housing would have no way of knowing that they were being treated differently because of their race."

In tests showing differential treatment for hearing impaired applicants, callers were hung up on in multiple instances and given differences in availability of units, amenities and security deposits. 

"The tests demonstrate that in Oak Park, in spite of its reputation, intention and progress in maintaining diversity, there are ongoing instances of racial discrimination that warrant follow-up, through additional periodic testing as well as fair housing education for rental representatives, management companies and potential renters," the report reads.

The HOPE report noted that despite Oak Park's poor showing on rental discrimination, it is at the forefront of assessing such inequities. 

"Few if any cities or municipalities undertake this proactive self-testing unless pursuant to a settlement agreement or court order," the report states. Oak Park commissioned the testing study a year ago. During the summer and fall of 2013, HOPE sent testers into the field to conduct the testing.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said the contract for the test cost around $15,000 and was prompted by a 2010 study by consulting firm Mullin Lonegran & Associates recommending the analysis.

Oak Park's Community Relations Director Cedric Melton said when the village receives housing discrimination complaints—only a handful every year—it's his job to investigate, but most complaints are unfounded. Between 1997 and 2009 only three complaints reported to the department turned out to be discrimination, he said.

"When you get the information and some of the facts, it turns out to be more of an educational process that I'm engaged in on what is not discrimination if you're denied an application," Melton said.

He said complainants sometimes feel they are being discriminated against because they were rejected for having bad credit or other legitimate reasons.

Village leaders acknowledged the abysmal showing at a Friday meeting with Wednesday Journal, calling the report's finding "unexpected" and "very disappointing."

Village Trustee Glenn Brewer, who serves as liaison to the village's Housing Programs Advisory Committee, said the results pose the question, "Are we who we think we are?"

"I think you have to consistently check to make sure," he said. "The results answered the question to me — no. In some ways we are, but in some ways we aren't (who we think we are)."

He said the village now must establish a plan for combating such discrimination. Recommendations from HOPE Fair Housing call for the village government to extensively step up education of renters so they can spot and raise concerns over discrimination. 

Pavlicek said educating renters could include distribution of public service announcements informing prospective renters of their rights. Trustee Bob Tucker said educating the public is only part of the solution.

"Education of the people on the frontline who are showing the apartments, that's another issue," Tucker said.

He said the report highlights what is "obviously a big problem."

"I feel both angry and sad, but it is not a condemnation of the entire community," Tucker said. "We are still a welcoming community. But this is a real serious problem."

Looking ahead, Brewer said, "What we feel is necessary is a multi-pronged approach to managers and landlords." He held out the option of the village taking landlords to court over discrimination issues. "You have to litigate sometimes." he said.  

Tammie Grossman, who has overseen the village's housing programs for several years and the recently added responsibility for business services, said HOPE has said they already are considering bringing complaints against the unnamed housing management firms who were in violation of discrimination policies.

"HOPE may be using the list for other litigation purposes, so we're having conversations with the village attorney about that," she said. "They do want to take at least one of the cases through the complaint process through the (village) Community Relations Commission."

Grossman added: "I'm disappointed in the results. I'm surprised in the changing of the (rental) rates and saying apartments weren't available when they were available. That shocked me. That's pretty blatant discrimination."

The HOPE report calls for more thorough training of landlords and their staff members, who already undergo annual discrimination training required by village hall. The fair housing group also recommends that after training is increased that further testing should be considered in the future.

Bill Planek, co-owner of Oak Park Apartments and chairman of the Oak Park Building Owners and Managers Association, said in a telephone interview that discrimination against prospective tenants is "morally repugnant," "against the law," and "bad business."

"People who break the law should be held accountable," he said, calling the report a "black eye for the industry." Oak Park Apartments is among the largest multi-family property owners in Oak Park.

He said the nine-member BOMA is planning a meeting to discuss how to respond to the report and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future.

"The report is what it is and we need to make sure members understand the basics of housing law," he said, adding, "We don't know if it's a few bad apples or if people have gone off the rails and are doing things they shouldn't be doing."

Rob Breymaier, executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, which was established in 1972 to encourage integration in the village, said the HOPE report poses "an opportunity for us to remember that we can't just rest on the success of our past."

Breymaier noted that when the organization was first formed, Oak Park was 99 percent white. Today's racial makeup is 64 percent white, 21 percent African American, 7 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian and 3 percent other. 

The village Community Relations Commission should take a central role in tackling the issue of housing discrimination, Breymaier said.

"(They) used to be more involved in issues like this, and maybe they need to be reengaged," he said.

"My hope is that the report encourages people to get more involved and that it reminds us all that at the core of our community we have a community that values diversity," he said.

Contact tim@oakpark.com

Exhibit A_HOPE Fair Housing Testing Report

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Reader Comments

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Posted: February 23rd, 2014 12:43 PM

..I left out trying to change their voice and tone so the service rep thinks they're white..they are sooo racist for that


Posted: February 23rd, 2014 12:41 PM

anonymous 2: ask black people about changing their voices and tone over the phone with customer service issues so they get better customer service lol op: tell me where Evanston is so much more integrated. I don't recall seeing that part before.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 19th, 2014 3:16 PM

It is good that so many people are outraged about the results of the study because that is what creates change. I do want to point out that the Oak Park Regional Housing Center does not actually lease apartments, which some commenters seem to be confused about. It lists apartments for specific landlords and even works with those landlords to practice fair housing and avoid discriminatory actions. Glad the Village is being vigilant in addressing this problem!

John R. Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: February 19th, 2014 10:56 AM

Kudos to the Oak Park Village Board for taking swift and forceful action regarding the discrimination outrage.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 2:28 PM

When I owned a two flat I required a credit report before signing a lease. The cost of credit report was paid by the prospective renter. Once that requirement was on the table it ended the inquiries of some would be renters. If an adverse credit report came through the person did not get the unit. I did not care what the color, the religion, the sexual preference, or whether or not they were disabled. If you cannot pay the rent you were not getting my apartment. Lesson here, pay your bills!!


Posted: February 17th, 2014 2:00 PM

Yes, Hmmm. A service dog for someone Deaf will help alert them to things that they may not see - cars coming quickly, intruder coming in, etc. Plus sirens, fire alarms, someone calling their name, etc. They can also be trained specifically to lead them away from bad sounds.


Posted: February 17th, 2014 1:16 PM

Why does a deaf person need a service dog? Does the dog "hear" for them, similar to how a seeing eye dog sees for the owner?


Posted: February 17th, 2014 12:45 PM

Has anyone asked these management companies what percentage of their buildings are minority leased? I think that would shed some light on if there is discrimination.


Posted: February 17th, 2014 11:49 AM

We're all worked up about these leasing agents but how many condo owners are renting their units to only specific people they like or For Sale By Owner homes that are essentially exempt from oversight? If someone really wants to get around Fair Housing, there are plenty of legal ways.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 10:09 AM

Ah, now that I'm looking at this on my laptop (instead of via the mobile app) I see that the WJ has provided the report (which the first page has a link to HOPE). Thank you!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 10:04 AM

Here is a link to the report. Starts on page 5. http://oak-park.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=99&meta_id=15615 And here is a link to HOPE's website... http://hopefair.org/index.html

Violet Aura  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 10:01 AM

Correction: LIVED, as in the past. By the way, there was a story in WJ about this family where the sons caused all sorts of mayhem on the block and I wonder whatever happened in that case.

Violet Aura  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 10:00 AM

I don't know how I feel about this. It seems that if someone owns a building, they have the right to rent to whomever they see fit. It's especially crucial from the standpoint of not wanting problems with disruptive tenants. Some people pretend they are just renting for themselves and then have other people move in. I live in a complex for almost two decades and the stories I could tell would curl your hair! So glad I am out of there :)

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 9:36 AM

Any clear evidence of outright discrimination should cost people jobs. Consider, though, that it can be hard to get people to move where you think they should. We moved a lot when I was a kid, and usually ended up surrounded by people who looked like us. My parents looked for places where they could live with their own people. A lot of minority Americans find that culturally more comfortable, which gives us great ethnic Chicago neighborhoods!

K Marcheford from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 11:06 PM

If the resident manager was with the Oak Park Regional Housing Center I would not be surprised, they are all useless. Big shots who got their jobs with connections and do as little as possible and sit in a rent free apartment while tenants pay absurd increases for them to be doing no more than changing light bulbs and batteries in common areas when they get around to it, all of which could be done by maintenance for less money.

MichaelO from Oak park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 10:05 PM

Follow the money.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 6:15 PM

There is the obvious issue on the table however, there is question if OP has reached tru integration or actually regressed. My sense is that racial integration has been constant while economic stratification has increased. Also, I am not sure that OP is truly integrated like Evanston as OP has become increasingly clickly ... which does not help people are different. My point, OP still accepts blacks BUT increased changes in social norms and class mean blacks will be redlined.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:27 PM

but when we don't know the exact questions/methodology behind this secret shopper type of market research you can't just rely on the stated results. You need to know exact questions these shoppers were asking... how do we know how they presented themselves. I would also think the village, if they wanted this research done, should of contracted with a market research company not one that has a vested interest in finding discrimination.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:15 PM

@ Unfortunately- it may be the other way around, but that's not how the report phrased it. I have a problem when so many types of request for information about a building where someone wants to pay good money to live for the next year is perceived as problematic. As for the report making note that in another instance "A representative said the building is mostly singles and young couples," all I have to say is, "Yeah? So what?" The methodology here is unclear at best, and biased at worst.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 3:55 PM

If a building couldn't take a family based on village occupancy rules why not say so? They can't fall back on "this building has mostly X" as an excuse.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 3:28 PM

having worked in leasing sometimes it's not a matter of giving any "impression" - some buildings, if they only have studio or 1BR units can't take families because OP has occupancy rules. It is not always as straight forward. Be interested in the exact wording of the questions the test subjects asked leasing agents.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 1:40 PM

Mr. Lauber's second reading suggestion for posters is also website service advertisement for his business. It contains his lengthy essay titled "Ending American Apartheid How Cities Achieve and Maintain Racial Diversity." The theme of the essay is captured in the 2nd paragraph of the executive summary. Lauber wrote, "American apartheid continues to flourish as forced resegregation turns one neighborhood after another from all?"white to all?"black in a just a few years." The essay shows the passion of housing advocates that feel that they alone in the fight for integration. Real Estate Agencies, local governments, and Nimbys are the enemy ready to allow, if not encourage, resegragation. Lauber represented Oak Park residents on the Oak Park Regional Housing Center Board from 1995?"2003. Assumedly, his paranoic views were present during that period and have been passed onto the current OP Housing Leadership. In 2012, Rob Breymaier, Executive Director of the OP Housing Center displayed the advocates paranoia with the statement "If we (Housing Center) were to cease operating, Oak Park would segregate within five years." Assumedly every housing institution in OP could make the same quote. The sense of racial harmony in Oak Park is a selling point for choosing the village. Leading a national housing revolution is not. It is time for the board to set the village's housing goals, policies, and enforcement practices and end depending on those who are ingrained in racial fear.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 1:22 PM

To answer your question, you can't give the impression that children, the elderly, married/unmarried renters are unwelcome. Age, marital status, and family status are all covered like race under fair housing.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 12:22 PM

@Bill Dwyer - "And what's the problem with a white applicant interested in a predominantly African-American location being directed to the OP Housing Center?" Answer - nothing. However, it's the other way around - the "white applicant" is unknowingly "being directed" by the OPHC. I'm unaware of the OPHC having an individual fill out a form and indicating "hey, I want to live in "x" type of area in OP." Wouldn't THAT be an even worse form of racial steering by OPHC?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 11:56 AM

The website that Dan Lauber suggested we posters read is his commercial website to sell his services to developers. There are two quotes at the site that provide insight into his sense of public housing. QUOTE "But unless the action and policies called for here are adopted and implemented within the next few years, America's middle class faces an otherwise unavoidable housing disaster, the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression." ?" Daniel Lauber. QUOTE "Imagine applying the legal and planning skills that have won zoning approval for NIMBYs or LULUs (Locally Unwanted Land Uses) to your development project, large or small. Imagine winning neighborhood support and preventing neighborhood opposition from even getting started." Mr. Lauber seems to lack some critical personal characteristics with objectivity leading the list.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 10:11 AM

By my reading, the only flunking grade here is by this superficial test. When the explanation of methodology is just 184 words, I question the substance of the methodology. And this appears to be laced with terms that beg for greater definition. Why is it a problem to tell people a building "is mostly singles and young couples"? And what's the problem with a white applicant interested in a predominantly African-American location being directed to the OP Housing Center? Isn't that's its purpose?

Village Voice  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 9:07 AM

Indeed, the methodology fails to address how the tester's race is established over the phone. Until and unless that is explained and equalized for, this is only a report of agents' reactions to unspecifieid verbal cues. And agent's reactions to technology-assisted calls need to be equalized against those of the general public. We've all been assailed by the explosion and abuse of unsolicited robo-calls for marketing and political purposes in recent years and would likely react the same.

anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 8:56 AM

If this was a study to take note of we would be seeing numbers like 1,000 phone calls,500 emails, 80 agencies, 100 appointments, . But somehow we are seeing numbers like 7, 8, 13. Pitiful. I could do a survey sampling 8 blocks in Oak Park and come up with the conclusion that there are no Oak Trees in Oak Park if I wanted to convince the citizens that there is an Oak Tree shortage. I'm starting to get real tired of Oak Park manipulating people and doing things half way.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 8:51 AM

That is a good point about race somehow being able to transmit itself over the phone line. The fact that it was a phone study alone is ridiculous for the year 2013 when most of these transactions take place via email. There is a reason no one answered any phone calls of any race and why everyone was impossible to reach. Because the best leads come in through email. Why don't they just do this study using the US postal service or telegram?


Posted: February 16th, 2014 7:29 AM

And the assumption that you can tell an African American vs. a caucasian over the phone is racist in and of itself.


Posted: February 16th, 2014 7:06 AM

Plus the HOPE agency is in place to find/fight discrimination. If they didn't find discrimination in this poorly done study then how could they justify what Oak Park paid for this study. What did Oak Park pay for this study? Why isn't that included in this story.

anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:38 AM

And was the Oak Park Housing Center tested? If so, it looks like they failed and if they failed there is really no hope in humanity. If they weren't tested then I have a hard time believing this test was done fairly as Oak Park let their little social engineering project off the hook while they went after others. This whole thing is a debacle and gives us no useful information. What a waste.

anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:34 AM

Also, I find it incredibly insane that Oak Park will be all over a building owner if they have a hole in their window screen but God forbid they ever check to see if an owner/agent has a brokers license. Id imagine less than 10% of leasing agents have any sort of license in this town. I'd be surprised if the OP housing center staff had any licenses. The brokers license goes over fair housing ad nauseum. Just check to make sure everyone has the license.

anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:28 AM

I also don't understand the need for this report. The reality is our buildings are incredibly diverse regardless of what this poorly done report says about 8 managers(which is basically that they didn't answer their phones). So what was the motivation? I know the village loves this so they can continue their obsession with race. How was this the result of a year study? What is the price tag on this study? I hope no more than $500 because I could've done it for less in about an hour.

anonymous from oak park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:23 AM

Has anyone else read this report? This looks like something a high school freshman would throw together right before class. Grammar errors everywhere, bar graphs that make no sense, and an incredibly small sample size for 8,000 rental units which is inconsistent throughout the entire report. I don't think this is so much a revelation of racial discrimination in our village as much of one of incompetency in building and village management.

anonymous from oak park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:18 AM

@Dan. It is quite easy to describe in 500 characters the difference between what the OP housing center does and illegal racial steering. Someone somewhere said what the OPHC does is not illegal. Thats the only difference. They are both steering though and both ethically wrong. Everyone should have the same housing options. It is a very simple concept.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 12:02 AM

It's impossible to explain in the 500 characters allowed here the difference between illegal racial steering that limits housing choices and how the OP Regional Housing Center expands choices. To understand the distinction, visit http://www.planningcommunications.com, click on the "Analyses of Impediments" (AI) button and read the DC or Lakewood, OH AIs all the way through. Or go to "Publications" and read "Racially Diverse Communities: A National Necessity" - to learn a bit about these subjects

Huh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 10:08 PM

Oak Park is racially and economically mixed but not at all integrated unless you happen to live next to apartments. 90% of the "mix" is in 25% of the village. That's better than 99% of Chicagoland. So should we be proud or should we be ashamed? I'm not honestly sure any more but we should be making much more informed and intelligent decisions about the future of this community than we are. The board encouraged a dialogue after the debacle on Madison. It still hasn't happened


Posted: February 15th, 2014 7:09 PM

Most of this is appalling, but I don't understand how the following are illegal: * A representative said the youngest people in the building were in their 40s and there were no children in the building. * A representative said a single young woman rented the unit before, there were lots of women and it would be nice to have consistency. * A representative said the building is mostly singles and young couples. Sounds like a landlord describing the building, something a tenant might want to know

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 5:46 PM

OP Res #545 - I read the Hope Report and was left with a lot of questions. I assume many will be answered at the Tuesday OP Village Board Meeting which will has the Hope Report on the agenda.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 4:26 PM

After reading the HOPE report, it's not clear to me whether the Mgt firms contacted were actually housed in OP, or simply listed rentals in OP. Frankly, I would like to at the very least see the names of the firms contacted, & the location. If these were all OP based firms, then people need to lose jobs. Also, there appears to be no coordination between all the various housing organizations in OP. This shouldn't happen.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 4:06 PM

More "racial steering" in OP? Look no further than Julian and Brooks. The "boundaries" for those schools exist in order to have "racial balancing." Period. Where does Obama send his kids? Emanuel? Where'd the Clintons send Chelsea? But, like OP and RF "liberals" - these same people call "conservatives" R.A.C.I.S.T. every chance they get! Don Harmon's 39th IL District is majority non-white - where does he live? What school do his kids attend? Ignoring bricks and glass houses is a liberal trait.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 3:59 PM

While I hope that the owners are fined, I think the issue of the village's not enforcing laws comes first. No way is a few owner fines going to solve the village and partners' neglect. The entire housing bureaucracy needs an overhauls.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 3:58 PM

@Nate Merriweather - you've perfectly summed up the mentality of OP and RF "liberals." Notice that they're NOT posting from Austin? Notice how some live in "lily white" RF, but happily call others "bigoted"? VA somewhat touches on this hypocrisy, too. Notice nothing from Forest Park residents? Could it be that OP/RF families with children do NOT want their children "mingling" with "them" at Proviso East? Where do the HOPE people live and send their kids to school? OPHC "steers" for a reason.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 1:32 PM

Steering is a violation of the federal fair housing act. Firing agents is only part of the solution. The job of a broker is to insure that agents are following the law. These brokers need to retrain their agents before they are faced with a discrimination lawsuit for violation fo the fair housing act.

oak parker from oak park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 11:22 AM

First of all these brokers/agents should be fired. They should be reported to Oak Park assoc of realtors or the State. This type of behavior is just not acceptable. Second. The OP housing center does steer. And they have been awarded for this practice. Third. I believe they still pay landlords to keep apts vacant on the east side vs. renting to low income. Maybe someone knows more on that?? But that is my recollection.

Violet Aura  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 10:10 AM

@Timbo the WJ Writer: Why don't you have a by-line, dear? In any case, you fail the diversity test, too. You used 'African-American' and 'White' in the same sentence or paragraph, which implies that BLACK is a dirty word. If BLACK is a dirty word, then why isn't WHITE also? This info is hardly starling. Everyone knows they keep BP on the fringes of OP close to Chicago. I grew up in the NE corner of OP and had Black friends because that was what was around me.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 9:31 AM

@Dan Lauber. Seriously? I think that your two posts qualify as the OP/PC/Orwellian definition of......drum roll.....what "normal people" define as......racial steering!!! I've re-read your next to last sentence from your 12:14am post and find that this is racial steering. Period. Couldn't we agree that OP landlords are also, per you, practicing to "expand options by getting whites to consider.............and Blacks to look at rentals in the...."? OPHC was originated to racially steer people!

we are not who we think we are from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 8:16 AM

@Dan Lauber ... fair housing requires ALL housing options to be provided to ALL prospective renter, so as to allow an informed and fair choice. The fact that the Oak Park Regional Housing Center's mission is to influence certain prospective renters (based on race) to make certain housing choices (based on prevailing race demographic of geographic place), is a form of racial steering.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 7:17 AM

So, maybe these companies, organizations need new representatives? Or the current ones need some customer service training??


Posted: February 15th, 2014 6:39 AM

The issue is not how do we restore former awesomeness (i.e schools ranked best in state) but rather where do we go from here? First, we need to stop the collective group think that immediately marginalizes any dissent. Second we need to reorganize the school into more modern approach, third we need to get serious about business --- you get the point, just cause we got FLW etc doesn't mean we are still top tier... CHANGE IS REQUIRED


Posted: February 15th, 2014 6:32 AM

As I mentioned, OP greatness was its progressive intellectualism (smart and open minded ) and as someone who grew up 70/80's in OP it was special place and very open (I am black) . Now it has become entitled exceptionlism (people feel the world owes us and we are better than every else). That attitude had led to average schools, no business base and rapidly rising property taxes - general loss of the mojo. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves - the issue above is a symptom of bigger

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 1:22 AM

Dan Lauber is a zoning and fair housing attorney who formerly served as the Oak Park Senior Planner and was a member of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center. His comments might have value to some, but does not add any information on the subject of OP Housing Discrimination. Is Mr. Lauber delivering "Spin" for the housing organizations?

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 12:18 AM

To set the record straight, the OP Housing Authority has nothing to do with enforcing fair housing -- except that it should be encouraging voucher holders to make pro-integrative moves which is what the OP Regional Housing Center does. We deal with these issues in all the Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice that we conduct. HOPE's findings are extremely distressing. BOMA needs to step up to the plate to change the behavior of local landlords now. And testing needs to be on-going.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 12:14 AM

HOPE's findings are more than a bit startling, but really no surprise. Oak Park landlords are very much a mixed breed with some as bigoted as anywhere else. But let's get as few things straight. The OP Regional Housing Center has never engaged in racial steering. Steering reduces housing options. OPRHC expands options by getting whites to consider units in the village's more integrated areas and Blacks to look at rentals in the village's least integrated areas. It's the opposite of steering.

Race or Income?  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 10:54 PM

Oak Park is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative for the next generation of young, educated, upwardly mobile people who seek to be closer to the city where companies like Google, Boeing and others are relocating. They are doing this because young workers are seeking more of sense of community. Oak Park offers an alternative to West Loop, Lincoln Park, and Bucktown Living, with better schools and more living space. The Real Estate Big Bang Theory, where everything collapses back in.

Bob Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 9:43 PM

I've witnessed some pretty egregious racism in the 25 years I've lived in Oak Park. I can't say I'm terribly surprised.

long time resident  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 7:30 PM

Sad but not surprised. We've lived here a long time and I've seen increased separation - often in subtle ways but clearly there and increasing. We all - whites and blacks - need to make an active effort to be inclusive. Just living here is not enough.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:52 PM

So what's wrong with any and all of the above??!


Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:40 PM

But isn't "racial steering" the semi-policy of the OP Housing Center? They lead whites east and blacks west, right? They seek "racial balance" in apt bldgs, yes? How does this differ all that much from some of what was reported here? I'm shocked, just shocked.....that any one is "shocked" with racial steering in Oak Park. Period!

ed breyer from Chicago  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:28 PM

Disappointing. Everybody's money is the same color - green! If they can afford the rent and have acceptable credit/rental histories - then they are perfectly eligible renters! Okay to discriminate against bad behavior (i.e. bad credit or criminal record) - not okay to discriminate on race or family status! How hard is that to understand?

Nate Merriweather  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:16 PM

But... but... but... I thought all Oak Parkers "walked the walk, and don't just talk the talk." What a shock. Maybe it's time to stop resting on 40 year old laurels.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:15 PM

Yes, the report is a shock to me and many other residents. But under no circumstance should any board members or staff's expression of surprise be acceptable to the community. Oak Park, a village of 50,000 people, has six organizations with housing responsibilities. For the record they are, Oak Park Housing Center, Oak Park Housing Authority, the Oak Park Regional Housing Department, Oak Park Residence Corporation and the Oak Park Housing and Community Relations Commissions. How is it possible that our board and staff were completely in the dark? Was there any oversight? How many times did representatives of the organizations stand at the board podium, but not once was the ultimate question asked. How are we doing on Fair Housing and Discrimination? Sure the village will take HOPE Fair Housing Center's "minimal" recommendations of more training, future testing, and more enforcement by the Community Relations Commission, but that will not solve the bureaucratic irresponsibility that resulted in an incredible embarrassment to the village. The board should call for a study of whether the village needs six organizations, who is responsible for what, and how much it all costs.

oh goodness  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:12 PM

Not breaking news at all. The minorities in the community could have told you this if anyone had asked.

SEOPer from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:11 PM

I also expect better from the companies showing this housing to new residents. Trustee Tucker summarizes my feelings. This makes me sad and this makes me angry.

I expect better!  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 5:56 PM

Shameful! Isn't that what the housing authority is for ? Are they dropping the ball?

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