Lisa Russell, a resident of Wilmette wrote this email (below) to the Wilmette Housing Commissioners & Wilmette Trustees encouraging them to reconsider a choice to eliminate a program that makes Wilmette a more welcoming community for all its valued members.
I learned from Jackie Grossman (from Open Communities) about the possibility of Wilmette eliminating its rental assistance program for residents with low income due to age or disability. I understand the amount in question is 1% of Wilmette’s annual budget.
Our family includes an adult daughter whose severe physical disabilities leave her unable to work. She attended Central Elementary School, Wilmette Junior High School, New Trier and Oakton Community College. She is an active member of our Wilmette church (where she serves as Deacon) and a regular at Wilmette’s park district programs and a nearby retirement community where she has made lasting friendships with residents. She uses the PACE Door to Door transportation. She has spent her adult years making a home here and she has a rewarding life. We support her now– but if at some point we could no longer do so, she would be unable to rent a modest apartment in Wilmette without the benefit of the Rental Assistance Program. Her life would be very different.
Our dear friends Ray and Jean Hart (lifelong Wilmette residents, recently deceased) even in their 80’s were able to continue to be part of the community they loved through Wilmette’s Rental Assistance program. They received daily visits and support from their local friends, niece, and church; continued to see their long-time health care providers, and shop in familiar places where the clerks knew them by name. To have been uprooted from a lifetime in this community would have been devastating. They also enriched us– we would have lost a great deal had they been forced to move away because they could no longer afford to rent in Wilmette.
Our Pastor, The Reverend Sarah Butter of Wilmette Presbyterian Church, asks me to share with you that she is ”concerned about the reduction in funds to assist our elderly neighbors. Wilmette was one of the leadership churches that helped establish low-income housing for the elderly in the 70s.”
One of the things we most value about Wilmette is its neighborliness. People with disabilities are welcomed and valued. Elderly, long time residents are welcomed and valued. Teachers and firefighters and young families with modest incomes are welcomed and valued. The fabric of our village is interesting and resilient because it includes a variety of talents, experiences, religions, races, abilities, and income levels. A healthy community values all its members and does its best to support, affirm, and learn from them. We are all enriched when we welcome and affirm diversity.
I hope you will find other ways to balance our budget than by taking away the 1% that is the Rental Assistance Program.
Sincerely, Lisa Russell (Wilmette)
Lisa Russell (left) with her daughters, husband and grandson
The Housing Commission is charged with reviewing and recommending to the Village Board policies and programs to alleviate the shortage of decent, safe, and reasonably affordable housing for the elderly and low and moderate income persons.
The next Village Board Meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, October 8, 2013 from 7:30pm to 10:00pm in the Village Hall Council Chambers.
The Village Board meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm. Meetings are held in the Village Hall Council Chambers on the second floor. (1200 Wilmette Ave.)