Get Involved

Become an Observer 

Joining Forces needs help monitoring what is happening in local municipal committees, task forces, commissions, and councils that are making recommendations and decisions about housing development and policy.

Most of our Watchdog work is in Evanston right now, so the days and times listed here pertain to Evanston. However, we would like to expand into Wilmette, Skokie, Morton Grove, and Lincolnwood for the government entities listed above or their equivalents.

If you are interested in spearheading efforts in one of these municipalities, send an email to

Observer Responsibilities

Send an email to if you are interested in doing the following with any of the groups we are monitoring:

  • Sign up for meeting notices and other communications from the entity you are monitoring.
  • Review all notices from the entity to determine whether action is needed.
  • Attend all meetings of the entity to do the following: 
    • Listen for new proposals, changes to, progress on, or decisions regarding housing development or related policy.
    • Report information gathered back to Joining Forces, along with an evaluation of that information and recommendations for any action to be taken.
  • Keep in communication with other Watchdogs to get backup coverage if you cannot make it to a meeting. 

Observer Opportunities

City Council: Meets on at least two Monday nights a month, usually starting at 7:00 p.m. or after the Planning & Development Committee finishes its meeting (which starts at 7:15 when they have one). The City Council has final say on decisions related to housing policy and development.

Planning & Development Committee: Meets on Monday nights at 7:15 before the Council meetings. This Committee makes recommendations to the City Council for final decision.

Housing & Homelessness Commission: Meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. The commission makes recommendations to the Planning & Development Committee.We are hoping to see this commission increase its influence on decisions related to housing policy and strategies. 

Design & Project Review Committee: Meets every Wednesday at 2:30. This committee is where many new housing developments are discussed in public for the first time--and therefore one of the first places we can show public support for adherence to the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.

Plan Commission: Meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. This commission makes recommendations to City Council on development and redevelopment, zoning, capital improvements, and related issues.

Housing & Community Development Act Committee: Meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. This committee develops recommendations for how the City's federal funding for CDBG (Community Development Block Grants), ESG (Emergency Solutions Grants), and HOME (a grant for housing programming) are divided among local non-profits.

Mental Health Board: Meets the second Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. This group develops recommendations for how the City's grants from the Human Services Fund are divided among local non-profits.

Human Services Committee: Meets the first Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. This committee makes recommendations to the City Council on matters related to health and human services, including the General Assistance Fund. Many issues discussed here intersect with issues related to housing.

Equity & Empowerment Commission: Meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. The description of this commission does not mention housing equity as part of its focus. We need to turn housing into an equity issue.