Wilmette Cares

 (2013 - Present)   Members of Wilmette Cares in front of Gates Manor. From left to right: Ann Jonaitis, Betty Phillips, Lorelei McClure, Gail Schechter, Lisa Braganca, Puran Stevens

(2013 - Present) Members of Wilmette Cares in front of Gates Manor. From left to right: Ann Jonaitis, Betty Phillips, Lorelei McClure, Gail Schechter, Lisa Braganca, Puran Stevens

Responding to individual residents interested in advocating for affordable housing at a newly available downtown Wilmette site, Gail catalyzed what became Wilmette Cares, a group residents who advocate for affordable, accessible, and inclusive housing in the village. “We love Wilmette and want to inspire our neighbors to embrace a spirit of fairness, empathy, and inclusion,” proclaims the group. The group organized none too soon, as it turns out. When the Village of Wilmette announced that it would be ending its Village’s Housing Assistance Program (HAP), founded in 1979 to provide a subsidy to the lowest-income seniors and people with permanent disabilities, the group was by then in a strong position to push back and ensure HAP's survival. Wilmette Cares has produced a video that raises awareness among residents that mixed-income housing is part of the community’s heritage (Embracing Our Diversity, Preserving Our Heritage, Keeping Our Promises) and continues to promote the preservation and expansion of affordable housing in the Village. The group meets regularly at Gates Manor, one of the oldest affordable senior buildings in the northern suburbs whose development in 1978 was supported by Open Communities, then the North Shore Interfaith Housing Council.