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Amidst the Affluent: Pockets of Poverty

Glenview's low income residents blend in; stand out

Nancy Bloom believes Glenview's upper crust zip code makes it harder than it should be to get grants that would help .

More than 65 percent of the children and parents who get counseling, recreation or other therapies from are low income, she said, but granting agencies still seem skeptical.

“They are like ‘Glenview? Northbrook? Those are rich suburbs,’” said Bloom, Youth Service's executive director.

This disconnect she describes: between Glenview’s reputation for affluence and its persistent pockets of poverty, presents unique challenges both for the area’s poor--whose lives are defined by contrast--and the schools and agencies that serve them.

How many poor people live in Glenview?

Quantifying the area’s poor is challenging, but a common shortcut used by researchers is the percentage of public school children receiving free and reduced lunch.

In 2010, 17.4 percent of ’s children were low income and 11 percent at Dist. 225, which also includes Northbrook. It’s a substantial percentage, but Glenview’s poor students are much more outnumbered than they would be at the average Illinois public school, where 45.4 percent meet federal poverty guidelines.

They are “have nots” in a world where their peers, , seem to want for nothing.

Dina Shiner sees it in the middle schoolers she counsels as a 7th grade social worker at Springman Middle School, where nearly twenty percent are low income.

Middle school is awkward and challenging enough without throwing income disparity into the mix, she said.

“At this age, the kids are very much trying to figure out who they are and comparing themselves to those around them," Shiner said. “Living in such a materialistic society, that is very challenging and hard for kids to understand.”

With the parent-created Debra Gelbrand Fund, Dist. 34 is able to smooth out some of the disconnect, buying some new clothes and shoes and providing needy students who make the team with sports and cheerleading uniforms that can cost in excess of $100.

A retired doctor volunteers his time to provide sports physicals, and when the 8th grade class took a field trip to Great America this spring, generous donations from parents made sure no one was left out.

Narrowing the gap

That’s the flip side of being poor among the wealthy.

“I am thrilled to work in Glenview because I think it is a very supportive community,” Shiner said. “People really rise to the challenge.”

But for many students, there is not just a gap, but a gaping chasm between their lives of after-school jobs and wondering if there will be enough food to eat and those of their well-off peers, whose exotic spring break locales can make it seem they want for nothing.

“If you’re poor in a poor neighborhood, everybody is the same,” Bloom said. “Here, a lot of the kids are different, and that’s hard; it’s hard not to have what everybody else has.”

She sees that in the run by Youth Services, which has seen more than 150 families asking for assistance since the recession hit.

In the holiday wish lists that children write, it’s not uncommon for them to ask for an iPad, an Xbox or some specific brand of clothing, Bloom said, which sometimes brings an irate phone call from the family that has agreed to help them buy gifts.

“They get upset with us sometimes,” she said. “They say ‘These children are poor, they are supposed to want pajamas.’”

Affordable Housing

Parents in poverty will struggle to pay the higher rents to live in Glenview, Bloom said, in order to send their children to better schools.

“I have found these families to be grateful, gracious, hardworking and a great addition to our community,” she said.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority determined that 12.4 percent of Glenview’s housing stock is low income, which is above a 10 percent threshold the state established in 2005 for requiring communities to develop affordable housing plans.

Winnetka and several other north Chicago suburbs are in the throes of developing plans like that right now.

Based largely on the 2000 Census, the figure for Glenview may overstate the amount of housing for low income families, because it doesn’t factor in the demolition of low-income military housing associated with the formal naval base. Though a smaller amount of low-income senior housing has been added, rampant growth in upper-end housing between 2000 and the housing collapse could push the balance towards what most people think of when they think of Glenview.

Nearly 15 percent of the city’s 10 square miles are covered by , a mixed housing, shopping and office district so remarkable that visitors will get a drive-by even if they aren’t hitting the boutiques or eating in one of several unique restaurants.

They might be surprised to see the other Glenview, driving through the crumbling or an area known as “the triangle,” west and south of Milwaukee Avenue and Deerlove Road.

Many work one or more jobs in Glenview’s service industry, staffing restaurants, cleaning homes or landscaping its lush lawns. Due to the recession, many of them have had their hours cut, said Bloom, and are no longer getting health benefits or enough income to make the rent.

More people in need

At the , they join an increasing number of more affluent families who never thought they would need assistance but have fallen on hard times because of the recession.

There has been a 140 percent spike in families using the pantry since 2005, according to director Gayle Zalatorias. In 2005, 278 families, most of them structurally poor, were using the pantry.

This year, 670 families are signed up so far to receive groceries and Jewel grocery cards, she said, some who knew it was there because they had donated in the past.

Mary Lou Kratochwill, the pantry coordinator, said others are shocked that upscale Glenview even offers the service.

“I get a lot of volunteers – this happens at least once a week – who say ‘I had no idea there was such a need in an affluent community.'” 

Roxanne Junge July 18, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Thank you for drawing attention to this. I had the same experience when asking for grants to cover the Link access program at the Glenview Farmers Market at Wagner Farm (www.glenviewfarmersmarket.org). Link is Illinois' food assistance program for low-income residents. Link card users can now use their benefits at the farmers market plus receive tokens which double the value of their purchase. The following organizations made this possible, and please notice how it was our OWN community that stepped up to the plate, which underscores what Nancy Bloom said about their generosity: Glenview State Bank, Glenview Women of Today, Friends of Wagner Farm, Glenview Rotary Club-Noon, Kiwanis Club of Glenview-Northbrook. Recent statistics from the Illinois Department of Human Services showed that there were 5822 households using the Link program within a 5-mile radius of Glenview. Though it started slowly, the popularity of the program is growing exponentially each week at the farmers market. Roxanne Junge Glenview Farmers Market Manager
David Kreiman July 18, 2011 at 03:46 PM
I hope the Farmers Market program is going well, Roxanne.
John July 20, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Thanks for bringing light to the subject, seems like there are a lot of wonderful people living in Glenview wanting to help but I here from others things that suggest that the top people in Glenview want places like Sunset Village to go away. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any statements in support of the residents living there. I hope that Glenview officials will one day accept those fine hardworking people as part of the community.
Joanna Schneider July 20, 2011 at 02:09 PM
It makes me so happy to know Link is available for use at our Farmers Market making local fresh fruits and veggies accessible to everyone. I'm not surprised to read that so many wonderful local organizations went to bat--like I've said so many times before, Glenview is a tremendously generous community!
Joanna Schneider July 20, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Thanks for joining the conversation, John. If you're interested in reading more about what's currently going on with Sunset Village and the foreclosure issues the residents are facing, we just published this story yesterday: http://patch.com/A-jdnN
John July 22, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Thanks for the link, I'll read it now.
James July 08, 2012 at 12:11 AM
First of all, it's Dearlove Rd, not Deerlove. And secondly, some of the buildings in that area are rental units, and may have Section 8 tenants. Others are condos and townhomes, not downscale slums. I lived in the Dearlove Road area for 18 years and it does not begin to compare with the Sunset Village Trailer park.
chris July 23, 2012 at 05:41 PM
What's been happening at Sunset Village may be ending soon as the outside media has started to take notice and has prompted officials to take a closer look at the conditions that have been allowed to continue for so long and deteriorate so rapidly despite tenants paying $954.00 per month in lot fees plus a mortgage on their houses. There is at least $200,000 per month in rent revenue coming in and it's more than evident that very little of that is being used for upkeep or to ensure residents health and safety.

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