Meeting Minutes ~ 11.3.21

Action Ridge General Meeting

November 3, 2021

Park Ridge Community Church and Zoom

7:00pm

This meeting was filmed by a crew from WTTW that is profiling Nan Parson for an episode of a digital series called “First Hand” which documents current social concerns and local people who are addressing them. The episodes in production are about the causes and effects of segregation in the Chicago area.

Nan kicked off the evening by introducing the topics the two speakers would address: Affordable Housing and Segregation, particularly related to Park Ridge.

Presentation by Ann Kapustiak on Segregation in Park Ridge

Ann recently received a degree in Political Science from Tulane. She grew up in Park Ridge and pursued a project for her degree that identified the roots of segregation in the City.

Ann first discussed some terms and tools used in social science research, which have mostly been used to document segregation specifically of the Black community.

  • Dissimilarity Index – degree to which people of different races are distributed proportionately throughout a given geographic area
  • Density – how strongly a particular population is represented in a geographic area
  • For example, a city could be 50% Black and 50% white (high density of Black residents relative to state or national representation) but the two groups could be segregated into different areas of the city (high dissimilarity)

In Park Ridge, the vast majority of the population is white, leading some to conclude that PR isn’t segregated because there are very few people of color who live here anyhow. This belies the idea that more people of color might live in Park Ridge if it weren’t for a history of racist policies and practices.

Many Black people arrived in the north during the (Second) Great Migration during and after WWII to escape racial violence in the south. They were shut out of many forms of housing due to de jure segregation (codified in policies and laws) and de facto segregation, including exclusionary real estate practices.

Redlining: Homeowners Loan Corporation created maps for where lending institutions should or should not make loans. Red areas were “hazardous” and largely represented areas with Black communities. The government endorsed these maps.

Park Ridge had racial covenants in at least two areas of the city: Mayfield and Shipley _____. Buyers could not sell or rent to Black people. The inability of people of color to secure housing in Park Ridge likely rippled out to dissuade others from trying.

Maine East was the only high school in Park Ridge until 1964. When Maine South opened, white families went to South and less affluent families of color stayed at Maine East, creating segregation that has lasted until today.

Ann Kapustiak created a podcast which includes a discussion with her parents who lived in Park Ridge during these years. Listen to her podcast here:

Presentation by Michael Rabbitt on Affordable Housing around Park Ridge

Michael co-founded Neighbors for Affordable Housing five years ago to make strides toward less racial segregation in the Chicago area. These efforts reveal the significant forces that are in place today to maintain segregation.

Neighbors for Affordable Housing organized to support a development in Jefferson Park at 5150 Northwest Highway that would have units designated for low-income people. There was strong pushback to the initial proposal from people inside and outside of the neighborhood so Michael understood that a coordinated effort was needed to counter it. The building is almost complete and there are 700 applications for the 70 affordable housing units.

The same developer proposed a building with affordable units at 8535 W. Higgins in Chicago. The location is transit-oriented and convenient for workers at O’Hare and large Rosemont-based companies. Anthony Napolitano, Alderman of the 41st ward, had no problem with the development initially. His zoning advisory committee voted to approve it. When the developer announced 30 affordable units – Napolitano went against it. Due to aldermanic privilege, the housing committee defeated it in 2016.

The developer, GlenStar, re-initiated the project with double the affordable units (60 out of 300) under a new administration and housing commissioner. This time Napolitano was unsuccessful in defeating in the plan commission. Now the proposal goes before the zoning committee, possibly in the February 2022 time frame. Advocacy is needed to move the project forward. Michael will reach out to Action Ridge to let us know what steps we can take to support.

Committee Updates

Kristin Berg – Affordable Housing

The Housing Advocacy Committee was formed last March, as the City began to revise the comprehensive plan. The first draft addressed the need for affordable housing. After Planning and Zoning review, the administration wanted to cut out almost all of the references to affordable housing. Work on the comprehensive plan came to a halt and Park Ridge lost two city planners. The new director came from Highland Park and has expertise in bringing affordable housing into communities. Kristin is hopeful the efforts will continue.

Karen Banks-Lubicz – Civil Rights Committee

Diversity Discussion Group did The Long Shadow film and discussion at the library. Now reading Garbage Wars with Environment Justice Group of Collective Resource.

Noreen Gayford and Joan Bludeau Lavelle – Gun Violence Prevention

They are now connecting with Moms Demand Action for updates and actions.

Noreen

Illinois Association of School Boards meets November 20 to take up two resolutions related to gun violence:

  • Resolution 2 – carrying firearms in school — ask school boards to vote no
  • Resolution 15 – safe storage of guns – ask school boards to vote yes

There will be an action email next week.

Joan

Efforts to bring Illinois House Bill 2769 (Microstamping Funding Program Act) up for a vote. It didn’t get brought up but will come again.

Alissa Goldwasser – Policing and Criminal Justice

Takeaways from meeting with Chief Kaminski:

  • PRPD is in hiring mode with recent retirements/departures and the pool is larger now because officers from Chicago Police Department are interested in joining suburban forces. While having more candidates is positive, discussed the importance of making sure that officers are not coming to Park Ridge with views and practices that are racist and/or overreaching. Also discussed the opportunity to hire more officers of color.
  • Revisited the recently-presented School Resource Officer evaluation and Alissa expressed Action Ridge’s concerns about its objectivity. She made a statement at the City Council meeting the following week.

Pat Lofthouse and Chris Parson — Elections and Voting

Pat

  • Fair vote used in several elections across country this week, including New York
  • Looking for volunteers to canvass in Evanston for rank-choice voting

Chris

200 students registered at each of Maine West and Maine East. Students were also being registered at Maine South but final numbers not available. Students were more engaged than expected.

Upcoming Meetings

Meetings will take place on second Wednesday of the month. Next meeting is December 8.

Meeting concluded at 8:25pm

Minutes submitted by Alissa Goldwasser

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