By: Kathy Routliffe | email@example.com | @pioneer_kathy
December 11, 2013 11:05 a.m.
Three former Wilmette board members, including former Village President Nancy Canafax, will join attorneys, fundraising specialists and public housing officials on the ad hoc committee charged with finding ways to privately fund housing support programs in the village.
So will Lorelei McClure, chairman of Wilmette Cares, the advocacy group formed to fight Wilmette’s recent decision to phase out funding its long-standing housing assistance program, known commonly as HAP.
McClure gave notice Tuesday, when she publicly accepted the appointment, that she and her organization have no intention of changing their mission.
“Private donations are welcome, but should not be relied upon,” to support the 21 Wilmette households – some seniors and residents with disabilities – that will eventually be eased out of HAP subsidies, which help them stay in the community, she said.
The village has funded HAP since 1982, she said, and is on record in its comprehensive plan as supporting “affordable housing options so persons with moderate incomes can enjoy the benefits of living in our community.”
“It is just wrong that in this economy, the village trustees decided to end a program that keeps 21 Wilmette families living in our community at a cost of only .13 percent of the village’s annual budget,” she said in a statement from Wilmette Cares.
The 2013 HAP budget was $48,000, $20,000 of which came from a now nearly depleted escrow account funded by fees from a housing developer.
However, working on the new committee, and lobbying Wilmette to reverse the decision it made in October, aren’t mutually exclusive, she suggested.
“I go into this always believing that we can achieve the best for the common good,” McClure said after the meeting. “I intend to work hard on the committee toward reaching common ground.”
Bielinski, who previously hedged publicly about putting a Wilmette Cares representative on the committee when he first announced its creation, told McClure he knew her appointment would not change her mind, or her organization’s policy.
He focused on the expertise all seven members were bringing to the table, including McClure’s. She is former public information officer for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States.
Bieilinski said he asked to raise the number of committee members from the original planned five “in order to take advantage of the number of qualified individuals in the community.”
“I did not imagine a group of this caliber,” when he first proposed the committee, Bielinski said.
The committee has two mandates, according to the resolution board members passed in November: to find and recommend ways to administer and privately raise funds for a housing assistance program and to recommend an organization to administer it.
It holds its first meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday on the first floor of Village Hall. Bielinski said another meeting early next year will provide the public a chance for input and comments.
Besides McClure, Bielinski appointed Canafax and former village Trustee Karen Spillers. Spillers works in marketing and public relations, while Canafax headed the village board when Wilmette adopted its first affordable housing plan.
Retired attorney John Levin is the third former board member named to the committee; he was a trustee for more than 20 years, and currently serves on the zoning board of appeals and the fire and police commission.
The final three include:
• John Thomason, former chair of the Wilmette Housing Commission who works with the Illinois Housing and Development Authority as a senior program officer, and with the American Jewish Committee as associate chief operating officer.
• Lisa Finks, an attorney with the Pro Sports Excellence youth camp management company, who has fundraising experience with the District 39 Educational Foundation and local schools.
• Laurel Tyler, a management consultant and founder of Family Promise Chicago North Shore, a nonprofit that supports homeless families with children.
For more information on Wilmette Cares, contact McClure at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 728-0305.