Housing is the fundamental structure of opportunity. Fair housing drives diverse schools, social networks, encourages citizen participation, and enables access to employment, transportation, health services, child care, and other local resources. OPRHC directly impacts Oak Park and the region in the following areas:
- Expand housing options for people of all races
- Assist building owners to keep buildings attractive and marketable
- Ensure strong demand for Oak Park housing by marketing to home seekers around throughout the region
- Provide free rental service to more than 5,000 apartment seekers annually, supporting racial diversity
- The Housing Center is a model and resource for other communities striving to achieve racial diversity
During the 1960s, Oak Park studied every aspect of the troubling social changes taking place east of Austin Boulevard and made a concerted effort to bring about an effective approach to integration that would break the pattern of block-by-block racial change. Leaders and residents realized that an agency, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, was needed to guide the development of a stable, integrated community. Because one-third of renters move every year, OPRHC is still necessary to sustain an integrated housing market.
OPRHC works to counteract steering and to promote pro-integrative choices through affirmative marketing. We market Oak Park as a community for all races, attracting people who respond to and strengthen that kind of climate. Oak Park’s aspirations have evolved to promote a welcome and inclusive community for African American, Asian, Latino, and White households. OPRHC promotes Oak Park as open to all and educates minority home seekers on their fair housing rights.
We work with the Village and other local agencies to coordinate a multi-faceted effort to promote and sustain the community’s rich diversity. More recently, OPRHC has launched a targeted effort to research fair housing policy, share our findings with other municipalities, and create a universal, “best practices” guide, so they too can experience the benefits of an inclusive, integrated community.