Open communities seeks to eradicate housing discrimination, in all of its forms, and against all persons, because of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sex, disability, familial status, or source of income. We believe that fair housing is a human right.
We will take all necessary and appropriate actions to further our goal of equal housing opportunities for all. To reach this goal, Open Communities engages in activities designed to encourage fair housing practices through educational efforts in the community; assisting persons who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination; and works to identify barriers to fair housing and to counteract and eliminate any discriminatory housing practices.
Open Communities has its roots in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A group of young mothers in Wilmette, led by Jean R. Cleland, were worried that their children were growing up in a community that lacked diversity, and they began to discuss how they could organize for change. There were no fair housing laws at that time, and local housing ads often stipulated, "No Negroes, Orientals or Jews."
These initial discussions gave birth to the North Shore Summer Project, an effort to persuade real estate agents in Chicago's northern suburbs to show and sell homes on a non-discriminatory basis. The project culminated with a rally on the Winnetka Village Green in 1965, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a crowd of nearly 10,000 supporters, saying, "We must now learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools." Learn More.Read Our Blog
Our work for inclusive and diverse north suburban communities is only possible with the support of our volunteers and funders. In addition to contributions from many individuals in the community, we also receive funding from the foundations, corporations, local businesses and government agencies listed here.
The Chicago Community Trust
Field Foundation of Illinois
Sally Mead Hands Foundation
Harris Family Foundation
Retirement Research Foundation
Woods Fund of Chicago
BMO Harris Bank
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
First Bank & Trust
First Bank of Highland Park
Hel’s Kitchen Catering
National Fair Housing Alliance
North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors
North Shore Community Bank & Trust Company
Northbrook Bank & Trust
Wells Fargo Housing Foundation
Cook County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
Evanston Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Illinois Housing Development Authority
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fair Housing Initiatives Program
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Housing Counseling Program
Employer Matching Funds
Ariel Capital Management, LLC
Bank of America
The Joyce Foundation