Making An Alibi Out Of Fair Housing


In the past decade there has been exactly one – yes, just one – complaint raised by anyone in connection with housing discrimination in Park Ridge.  To most reasonable people, that would mean that our realtors are doing a good job in treating all potential real estate purchasers fairly. 

But apparently not if you are Park Ridge Fair Housing Commission chairman Nan Parson.

Ms. Parson and her sidekick, former Third Ward alderman Sue Bell, see that one complaint not as a sign that things are being done right but, to the contrary, as a sure sign that other fair housing violations are occurring but aren’t being reported because all those victims of unfair housing practices here in Park Ridge don’t know their rights. 

So for the past couple of months they have been publicly complaining about how the City Council’s proposed revision of the City’s Fair Housing Ordinance (FHO) is taking away their powers to make Park Ridge safe for…well, we’re not sure whom, because Nan and Sue can’t seem to identify any of those unfair housing victims.

Last week’s Herald-Advocate published a letter from Ms. Parson (“With no voice how can housing be fair,” August 7) that reveals an agenda that goes well beyond the concept of “fair’ housing.

Parson writes that on August 18, the City Council members are “going to vote to cut [the Fair Housing Commission] out of the investigatory process.”  Her Commission, however, has not had a role in the investigatory process under the FHO.  Section 14-14-2 of that ordinance gives the sole power and authority to investigate fair housing complaints to the City Manager.

But Parson’s letter goes on to talk about our “citizens who are threatened by difference and change,” the need to “embrace change,” and “welcoming and protecting those who are in the most need of protection.”  She even concedes that fair housing is only one of the “several areas” in which our community should “do the right thing.” 

We think it’s time for Nan and Sue to cut the code-speak and talk straight with our citizens.  If their goal is to change the racial or ethnic complexion of our community, they should have the courage and the decency to come out and say so – and let that issue be debated openly and meaningfully by the City Council and the people they represent. 

It’s time they stopped hiding their true intentions behind a Fair Housing Ordinance that actually appears to have done its job well.