Prevent Economic Segregation in Suburban Communities

Target: Illinois General Assembly

Goal: Increase affordable housing opportunities to reduce economic segregation and restore equality

In recent decades, economic inequality has increased at an appalling rate, but segregation based on economic status has expanded even more. Wealthy communities, notably several in Illinois, have voted down attempts to incorporate affordable housing into their neighbourhoods. Please encourage the Illinois state legislature to ensure that communities follow through on the Affordable Housing Act.

Illinois state representatives passed the Affordable Housing Act in 2003, stating that at least 10 percent of housing in a municipality must be affordable to families earning less than 60 percent of the median income. However, a number of municipalities have not complied, namely due to homeowner’s associations.

Several organizations and projects in Illinois and elsewhere have been successful in combating the segregating force of exclusive wealthy communities, thus creating models for municipalities not taking action on this serious problem. The Land Trust model, successful in Highland Park, Illinois, and in areas across the country, allows families to purchase houses inexpensively, while the city holds the land in trust.

Economic segregation at the current level has serious consequences, namely for young peoples’ opportunities. Schools in wealthy areas are much more proficient, safer, and statistically more academically successful than schools in poorer communities. As the income divide grows, these differences become starker.

When families of diverse income levels live together in the same community, middle ground and universal access can be reached in education, safety infrastructure, and health, along with other community resources. In addition, taking steps to reduce segregation significantly reduces trends towards increased disparity and discrimination between unequal communities.

Please encourage the legislature to support programs such as the Land Trust program in order to further implement and enforce the Affordable Housing Act, thus ensuring equality of opportunity in education, safety, health and employment for all residents.


Dear Illinois Legislature,

Despite the Affordable Housing Act of 2003, economic segregation among Illinois communities is still on the rise, as income inequality becomes more conspicuous. It is vital that this segregation is reversed before consequences including inequality of opportunity in education, health, and employment permeate society further. Please encourage programs that are fighting to incorporate affordable housing into every municipality, and ensure that all communities provide housing accessible to all.

Homeowner’s Associations in wealthier communities have fought against the efforts of the Affordable Housing Act, and organizations trying to reduce inequality and segregation, by arguing that incorporating affordable housing would make their neighbourhoods unsafe. This belief is ungrounded as the families and individuals seeking affordable housing are often teachers, nurses and public employees looking for a safe residence themselves.

When these middle-to-lower class residents are excluded from communities they must accept lower standards in education for their children, less opportunity for upward mobility in employment, and lower security in health and safety. Widening the divide between wealthy and poor residents will only provoke discrimination and further inequality.

Please prioritize the enforcement of the Affordable Housing Act in all communities in every municipality, and encourage cities to adopt programs such as the Land Trust program, in order to provide equal opportunity for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ross Griff via Flickr

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