For this month, we're featuring the executive director of the Reba Place Development Corporation (RPDC) and Joining Forces member, Keith Banks. Keith is originally from the south side of Chicago, moving around with his single divorced mom and his brother from rental apartments to townhouse co-ops and more. He relocated to Evanston with his wife 28 years ago and continues to reside in this town.
-- Written by Sue Loellbach
I really don’t like being asked for money. I tend to hang up on phone solicitors and throw away mail asking for donations, and even though I work at Connections for the Homeless, I sometimes cross the street to avoid panhandlers. When I encounter them, while I feel compassion for their need, I also feel irritation, frustration, sometimes fear, and shame. It’s extremely unpleasant.
For this month, Joining Forces is shining the advocacy spotlight on Bonnie Wilson! Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Bonnie has lived in Evanston since she was 21 years old. She has worked in real estate for the past 38 years and still works as a realtor today. In fact, Bonnie’s work in real estate is what led her to affordable housing advocacy.
For this month’s Advocacy Spotlight, we are featuring Joining Forces member, Terri Dubin. Terri grew up in the New England area, moving between New York City and Boston, then moving to Evanston in 1988 because her husband was from the area and the progressive politics of Chicagoland appealed to them. Terri is currently retired but has a BA in Urban Studies and has worked in a planning center in New York City, worked in architecture, and has had other vocations that involve her interest in “how cities come together.”
On August 15, 2022, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) hosted a webinar that explains the Housing First model, as well as the rigid, post-pandemic laws that are being proposed or passed across the country to address homelessness by criminalizing it. In spite of legislation that aimed to humanely get people off the streets during quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, homelessness has been increasing over the past two years and there has been backlash against proposals to keep in place the 2020 solutions to prevent homelessness and house the homeless.
In August of 2020, Joining Forces for Affordable Housing reviewed Evanston’s Zoning Code and concluded that “both Evanston and the surrounding communities should overhaul their municipal codes to accomplish the following:
For this spotlight, we’re focusing on none other than Joining Forces’ own Nathaniel Hagemaster as his year-long term of AmeriCorps VISTA service that brought him to Connections ends!
Joining Forces has been researching how the anchor institutions in other communities (those that employ the most residents and contribute the most to their local economies) participate in addressing the shortage of affordable housing. In Evanston, those anchor institutions are Northwestern University and the two hospitals. Joining Forces has completed a study of Northwestern University's role in the shortage of affordable housing and in what peer universities are doing in their communities to solve the problem. We are working on a similar study around the hospitals.
Joining Forces would like to welcome our advocacy team’s second Community Organizer, Max Seeley. Max is a Stevenson fellow in Applied Community and Economic Development. He is starting an eleven-month internship here at Connections and Joining Forces for his political science master’s program at Illinois State University with an emphasis on public policy and state-legislative elections.