The HomeTown Association of REALTORS® (HAR) is helping DeKalb officials clean-up graffiti and spread positive messages about diversity and inclusion in that community.

They created a makeshift mural containing the word “UNITY” to replace graffiti painted by vandals on an underpass wall near a pedestrian walkway and bike path. It is the first step in efforts to build a stronger and more unified community.

“Unity was used to highlight solidarity and decrease further tagging until a mural permit is secured and work can begin at the site,” said Local Governmental Affairs Director Neeley Erickson. “The mural focuses on diversity and inclusion while recognizing the grave and intense challenges we face as a community.”

This photo shows the temporary fix made to a graffiti-covered underpass wall in DeKalb. The HomeTown Association of REALTORS® has secured a $1,000 grant that will enable a local artist to decorate the wall with a unity-themed mural.

Erickson said HAR has partnered with DeKalb Alderman Scott McAdams and local artist Aaron Robertson from Off the Tracks Gallery to unite the community. Additionally, HAR applied for and received a $1,000 National Association of REALTORS® Community Rebuilding Grant to assist with the graffiti clean-up. NAR established the Community Rebuilding Grant to help REALTORS® engage with community partners for repairs and improvements.

Erickson said the initiative embodies REALTORS® longstanding commitment to fighting racial injustices and championing policies that build safe and inclusive communities.

HomeTown is led by association executive Heather Wiedrich, President Todd Burghardt of Team Advantage Plus Realty in Rochelle, President-elect Bonita Willis of Woodhaven Lakes Realty in Sublette, Treasurer Aaron Schwartz of Weichert REALTORS® Signature Professionals in DeKalb and Immediate Past President Patty Martinez of C21 Affiliated in DeKalb. The association serves 300 members from DeKalb, Ogle, Lee and Whiteside counties.