A packed house of residents, landlords, lawyers and activists filled the Village of Glenview chambers on March 3 to provide opinions on a proposed amendment to the town’s Fair Housing Ordinance before The Board of Trustees made a final decision.
Village President Jim Patterson called for respect of speakers’ opinions in the forum, recognizing the flurry of comments that came forward at the first public hearing February 17. While some quoted the U.S. Constitution’s mandate for property rights, others pointed to the message of Glenview’s “Character Counts” motto, and Rev. Dale Susan Edmonds of Glenview Community Church asked for the Board to remember the words of The Pledge of Allegiance spoken moments earlier.
“Words matter. We don’t pledge liberty and justice for those who can afford it or for those who have never fallen on hard times,” she said. “We need to make a commitment as a community to offer opportunities.”
Ultimately the board voted 5-1 to carry the motion, which aligns with Cook County’s human rights ordinance that stipulates that landlords cannot discriminate against qualified renters who present a Housing Choice Voucher.
Although Cook County adopted the amendment in May 2013, Glenview was one of the last communities to comply, citing the need for more research, which included workshops with the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) and a survey of local landlords.
Deputy Village Manager Don Owen also presented some new key research that answered earlier questions of participant volume, rules for rent caps and the impact on student populations, one of the biggest sticking points for opponents.
The 169 vouchers in use in Glenview contribute 39 children, he said, or less than 1% of the town’s student body. Many participants are seniors, veterans and disabled individuals who would not present a challenge for schools. Owen also said the program is currently stagnant because the county has issued its total share of 12,800 vouchers and has closed the waiting list; any active movement of vacated and new residents in Glenview was calculated at a figure of 18 people in 2014. Owen also reiterated that landlords are able to set rents on a fair market scale (with allowed yearly increases of up to 5%) and can apply the same credit and background standards they would to any prospective renter.
Based on this further data, Owen deemed there would be “no measurable impacts by changing the ordinance.” Even so there remained a considerable divide amongst constituents, vocalized at both the meeting and in volatile correspondence sent to officials, which Trustee Deborah Karton called “disturbing” and Trustee Scott Britton said carried an “apocalyptic tone.”
During the evening, several speakers asked for the measure to go beyond the board and be placed on a public referendum on the next ballot, but Patterson was not in favor and moved forward with the night’s vote.
The changes are effective immediately although residents can still lobby to have a referendum on an upcoming ballot by petition.