Keep Housing Affordable In Naperville, Downers Grove, Say Residents

Together Each of us Achieves More
By Amy Lawless

"Action springs not from thought, but from readiness for responsibility."
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich German theologian (1906-1945)

The cost of housing is sky-rocketing and in effect, squeezing out the middle class – our teachers, policemen, taxi drivers and every day working people. What has been lacking, until recently, is organized political will to either pressure or support elected officials to take action. However, under the guidance of DuPage United, since June 2006, a team of residents from Naperville began to explore the issue of affordable housing specific to Naperville. A team of residents in Downers Grove did too. Lake County United and United Power for Action and Justice in Cook County are also working on the issue in their respective counties.

The Naperville and Downers Grove teams used a number of strategies after they had researched the issue. This included dozens of community meetings, many education sessions on housing, presenting the research at city council meetings, and requesting the city council to direct city staff to work with them on this issue. The Naperville team, for instance, met with each member on the city council to educate them and build support. The leaders also sought support from the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, who agree that affordable housing is a workforce development issue. The City of Naperville had never directed staff to spend time on this issue and did not see affordable housing as a priority. However, as a result of these efforts the mayor and council have voted to have affordable housing as a priority for their Strategic Initiative Plan for 2007, which means this issue is now a priority for the city.

As someone once said, the word Team could very well be an acronym for Together Each of us Achieves More Interested individuals, organizations and mosques are requested to join the effort. Please contact Don Derrow ( in Naperville, and John Hazard ( in Downers Grove, Lake County United ( Kitty Cole 847-735-0418, and United Power for Action and Justice in Cook County ( Stephen Roberson, (708) 386-6102).

About the Writer: Amy Lawless is a lead organizer with DuPage United.