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.”
Before being asked about her background in affordable housing, Terri quoted her father as saying, “Has it ever occurred to anybody that shelter is not the place for people to make a profit?” regarding the housing inflation that occurred about 35 years ago. This seems to be a sentiment that stuck with Terri and had an influence on her interest in urban development, housing, architecture, and affordability. What interests Terri about affordable housing advocacy is her concern with wealth distribution in America, particularly how people who don’t own property aren’t given as many perks or privileges by the government. Not to mention, rentals keep getting even more expensive over time.
When asked about her background in affordable housing, Terri said that she used to be a plan commissioner in Evanston. She also did political advocacy for affordable housing issues, Then Wynn Graham, another advocate, invited her to Joining Forces in 2020. The controversy that Evanston’s 3-Unrelated Rule spurred really made her want to do more advocacy in Evanston. Plus, issues like the built-in discrimination that’s involved with Evanston’s zoning and parts of the city becoming increasingly unaffordable motivated her to advocate in Evanston.
Terri has written letters in response to an Evanston Roundtable article that involved private citizens and City Council defending the 3-Unrelated Rule, spoken up at ward and city hall meetings, as well as following Joining Forces’ lead on advocacy activities in the municipality. She mentioned how in the 1960s, the Supreme Court allowed municipalities to define family however they saw fit, which Terri described as “an archaic way of living” and viewing the world of residents. She suggested that Evanston adopt Connecticut’s use of the phrase “housekeeping unit” to describe households with roommates that have separate bedrooms but common living areas, to accommodate Northwestern students as well as those who can only afford to split rent with other residents.
When asked about the two best things to do about affordable housing in Evanston, Terri said that the three anchor institutions (Northwestern University, Amita Health, and NorthShore University HealthSystem) should get more involved with taking responsibility to increase affordable housing in Evanston and that the City should be more proactive as well. She explained her suggestion by saying that making affordable housing is “a moral imperative.”