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History of HOPE Fair Housing Center

HOPE was established in 1968 when a family was found living in a garage in Wheaton, IL. A few individuals dug into their savings to buy and renovate a house for that needy family. This historic effort marked the first family assisted housing in DuPage County. But for the pioneers of HOPE it was just a simple act of helping a family enjoy the right to a decent place to live. When other people asked for similar help, HOPE developed an innovative housing plan which was publicized in the national media. An article was published on September 20, 1970 in an issue of Parade Magazine, titled "A New Lease on Life" which generated nationwide interest from start-up housing centers from all around the country. Through private contributions, homes were bought, renovated and made available to families at affordable rents. HOPE members acted as plumbers, electricians, carpenters and janitors to demonstrate how people could be decently housed and neighborhoods improved at the same time.

In 1970, HOPE became a full service fair housing organization with a professional staff. Bernard Kleina was HOPE's first Executive Director from 1970 to 2011. HOPE's mission became challenging the policies and practices of a system which worked to the disadvantage of people protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act. Thanks to the help of hundreds of volunteers and contributors, HOPE has remained faithful to that mission. Currently, HOPE has seven full-time staff members along with five part-time staff.


  • Initial Incorporators and Officers:

    Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Chinn Mr. & Mrs. Giles Kelly
    Hartman and Shirley Stime Richard and Ruth Riha
    Ms. Fran Holtzman

  • Initial Board of Directors:

    President: Ms. Jo Bellinger
    Vice President: Mr. John Waters
    Secretary: Ms. Fran Holtzman
    Treasurer: Mr. Phillip Chinn