Friday, November 13, 2015

Increasing Diversity On the North Shore

Recently, it has been brought to the attention of residents and politicians alike that the northern suburbs of Chicago's housing prices are deemed unaffordable for a majority of the population. One of them, Wilmette, has the average price for a house range between $670,000 to $700,000 compared to the state average of $170,000 according to Because of this, the majority of the residents are white and prove to have little diversity. To try and fix this “problem” and attract a new crowd to the town, there have been talks between Wilmette plan commissioners of building a 20-unit affordable apartment building. When village leaders met to discuss the idea, many other residents came to express their opposition. Their complaints included their concerns of increase an of crime and or possibly a resulting decrease in their own house values.

Personally I believe that such an idea is unrealistic. In no way am I discriminating against person, no matter their race, but typically the richest families in our nation are white. Wilmette has currently over 27,000 residents and covers 5.41 square miles of land. It is realistic to assume that everyone in every house in those 5.41 square miles of the neighborhood are fabulously wealthy. Yes there are many large, expensive houses throughout the town, particularly near the lake, there are also many affordable houses and small apartment buildings throughout the neighborhood.

One must also keep in mind that the phrase, “location, location, location,” is a very relatable topic to such a case. This is something that realtors and homeowners or buyers frequently consider when looking at places to live along with their price. Last year my grandmothers had told me about how her local top doctor was putting his house on the market. It was the largest property, not including a farm, that was being sold in the town of Grand Island, Nebraska. It had a three car garage, three stories, and was appraised on the market for $300,000. My grandma expressed her disgust with such a price that she said in her slight country accent, “Who has that kind of money? That price is ridiculous!” This price is less than half of the Wilmette average, but it’s that way for a reason. Instead of looking at the house itself, let’s look at what is around it. Grand Island is very different than Wilmette, Illinois. What adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to property costs are factors like being near Lake Michigan and Chicago, some of the best public schools in the country, and even the peaceful atmosphere.

If even more “affordable” apartments were added to the town, there could be large problems. Agreeing with some of the angered residents, it could lower their own appraised value for their homes and is not very logical concerning the factors that make the area so expensive. I don’t think that any of the objections are made to insult people of the lower class or another race, but are made to show concern for personal loss of money in the long run for the families already living in Wilmette. Personally I don’t think creating another group of people living in Wilmette is as big of a problem is it seems. If these buildings are approved to be built, they need to be done so in an area where it does not threaten the value of the nearby houses.


  1. I agree with you, and just because the housing would be more affordable doesn't mean the town would be more affordable. The groceries and activities around here wouldn't be at the price the lower income people could afford.

  2. I agree with what you are saying. In my opinion, if an apartment building were constructed for what might be seen as more "lower class" or "diverse" people, wouldn't that almost separate them even more from everyone else? If all the people who are different from the rest of Willamette's population are confined to one building, I feel like it would these two groups of people an even starker contrast. At the same time though, I think it is a good idea to try to "diversify" the North Shore.