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Diversity Statement

Oak Park, Cook County

The Diversity Statement, as part of a comprehensive approach to equal opportunity and fair housing, highlights that the village’s commitment to equality is not just because it is the law, but because it is right and desirable.

Oak Park

Goal

Recognize the value of diversity and guide policy and decision-making to preserve and enhance an equitable community.

Target

Policymakers and citizens.

Financing

No cost associated with this policy.

Success

By clearly establishing the village’s intent and commitment to this policy, it fosters mutual accountability to these goals between policymakers and citizens and creates a benchmark by which decisions are judged.

Lessons learned

Having an explicit policy regarding diversity can lead to a commitment to other inclusive steps, such as Oak Park’s housing programs and Landlord-Tenant Ordinance.

Policy background

All newly elected Village of Oak Park board members take an oath to cultivate diversity within the community. This oath, in the form of a Diversity Statement (cited below), makes it very clear that diversity considerations will affect all policy decisions in the community.

The idea for the Diversity Statement was brought to the Village Board by a grassroots movement led by interested citizens. The board passed the statement in 1976, to establish Oak Park as an accessible community with a stated commitment to diversity and equal opportunity.

The Diversity Statement, as part of a comprehensive approach to equal opportunity and fair housing, highlights that the village’s commitment to equality is not just because it is the law, but because it is right and desirable. The statement encourages participation from all citizens, regardless of race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, economic status or political affiliation.

Oak Park diversity statement

Adopted by President and Board of Trustees Nov. 19, 2007

The people of Oak Park choose this community, not just as a place to live, but as a way of life. Oak Park has committed itself to equality not only because it is legal, but because it is right; not only because equality is ethical, but because it is desirable for us and our children. Ours is a dynamic community that encourages the contributions of all citizens, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital and/or familial status, mental and/or physical impairment and/or disability, military status, economic class, political affiliation, or any of the other distinguishing characteristics that all too often divide people in society.

Oak Park’s proud tradition of citizen involvement and accessible local government challenge us to show others how such a community can embrace change while still respecting and preserving the best of the past. Creating a mutually respectful, multicultural environment does not happen on its own; it must be intentional. Our goal is for people of widely differing backgrounds to do more than live next to one another. Through interaction, we believe we can reconcile the apparent paradox of appreciating and even celebrating our differences while at the same time developing consensus on a shared vision for the future. Oak Park recognizes that a free, open, and inclusive community is achieved through full and broad participation of all its citizenry. We believe the best decisions are made when everyone is represented in decision-making and power is shared collectively.

Oak Park is uniquely equipped to accomplish these objectives, because we affirm all people as members of the human family. We reject the notion of race as a barrier dividing us and we reject prejudicial behavior towards any group of people. We believe residence in this Village should be open to anyone interested in sharing our benefits and responsibilities.

To achieve our goals, the Village of Oak Park must continue to support the Board’s fair housing philosophy that has allowed us to live side-by-side and actively seek to foster unity in our community. We believe that mutual understanding among individuals of diverse backgrounds can best be attained with an attitude of reciprocal good will and increased association.

The Village of Oak Park commits itself to a future ensuring equal access, full participation in all of the Village’s institutions and programs, and equality of opportunity in all Village operating policies. The success of this endeavor prepares us to live and work in the twenty-first century.

It is our intention that such principles will be a basis for policy and decision making in Oak Park. The President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park reaffirm their dedication and commitment to these precepts.

Contact

Department of Community Development, Village of Oak Park
708-358-5410, housing@oak-park.us, www.oak-park.us

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