WHO WE ARE
Where you live matters. Where you live determines how you live. Open Communities knows that where a person lives determines everything: access to high-performing schools, jobs, healthcare, transportation, recreation, and green space. To that end, all communities—especially communities rich in resources and opportunities—must be accessible for all people. In order to increase accessibility, systemic housing discrimination needs to be dismantled on every level. Our services empower all through education and outreach while holding communities and institutions accountable for discriminatory policies, procedures, and actions. Specifically, Open Communities engages in activities that encourage fair housing practices including landlord-tenant and foreclosure counseling services and community education to make our communities in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago welcoming for everyone. Our services include Housing Counseling and Education, Fair Housing Investigations and Enforcement, and Legal Aid.
The mission of Open Communities is to educate, advocate, and organize to promote just and inclusive communities in North Suburban Chicago. We seek to eradicate housing discrimination, in all of its forms and against all persons, due to race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, familial status, or source of income. Quality housing is a human right; fair housing is the law.
Our country’s early history of fair housing was shameful. Practices of redlining (marking areas where minorities lived in red in order to discriminate against them for lending and sales purposes), combined with racially and religiously restrictive covenants in Chicago suburbs and racial steering by realtors, created an area with little diversity. Local housing ads often stipulated “No Negroes, Orientals, or Jews.” In the early 1960s, eight North Shore mothers decided they needed to do something about the lack of diversity in their communities. The women launched the North Shore Summer Project to find others willing to rent or sell to people of color. After the Civil Rights Act of 1968, those activist mothers continued their work and formed the North Shore Interfaith Housing Council in 1972 along with numerous congregations. It wasn’t surprising that the faith community would be a driving force in fair housing and an instrumental part of creating our organization. Their work focused on both affordable and fair housing. In 2002, the organization was renamed Open Communities. It grew from assisting low-to-moderate income residents seeking homes and investigating fair housing violations to offering housing counseling, education, and a full legal clinic. The Open Communities name was chosen to reflect the open and welcoming objectives of the organization’s advocacy efforts and the belief that communities should be open to all.
Members At Large
Erica Page Muhammad