HOUSING COUNSELING PROGRAMS
Open Communities’ housing counseling services are customized to meet our clients’ needs. Clients meet with housing counselors one-on-one to address issues and find a housing solution. Our housing counselors are trained experts in their service areas. We work with clients in Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties.
We have several housing counseling services. We also offer workshops in these areas for people to learn about the topics.
Our housing counseling services include:
We believe in mediation, not litigation. Our mediation program works to resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants or between neighbors. Our certified mediators facilitate sessions to assist parties in reaching common goals. Typical mediation includes repairs, move-outs, or new leases. Our team always remains a neutral third party to ensure neither landlord or tenant has an advantage over the other and that communication remains civil and productive.
This program also educates landlords about fair housing and eviction prevention. Upon completion, landlords can list their rental properties with us to share with our tenants looking for housing.
Many people want to age in their homes, and our housing counselors help people over 55 explore their options to deal with accessibility and financial issues. We also educate older landlords and tenants about their rights against age discrimination.
Eviction Prevention/Justice Impacted
In Eviction Prevention, we educate tenants and landlords about eviction prevention strategies. Our staff helps individuals understand their rights and provide support as they manage the eviction prevention process. They also assist with retrieving necessary documents for cases and/or rental assistance applications.
Eviction Prevention also addresses the increased number of evictions for justice-impacted individuals. To do this, our staff works throughout the Cook County suburbs to bridge the gap in resources for these affected communities.
Racial Equity and Housing
The goal of our Racial Equity and Housing program is to address the ways racism permeates the housing system so that Black and Latinx renters can gain economic and social empowerment through housing. We provide a space to acknowledge the racial harm in the housing industry and for effective systems of change. Led by Black and Latinx community leaders, this program lifts Black and Latinx community voices through racial healing, equity training, and collective action.
Rental Counseling for Landlords and Tenants
Rental counseling is valuable for both landlords and tenants.
For landlords, our experts assist with tenant screening and tenant education. We teach both landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities regarding fair housing and best rental practices, such as proper maintenance and insurance.
For tenants, we explore if purchasing a home or renting is a better option. We help people understand residential rights and responsibilities, assist in sustaining housing, search for new housing, and prepare for homeownership.
For future landlords and homeowners, we provide one-on-one counseling for first-time buyers. We discuss budgeting, loan options, and navigating the homebuyer process. We also review foreclosure prevention, lending abuses, and high-risk loans.
In our post-purchase counseling, we assist new homeowners with understanding budgeting and spending plans to maintain financial fitness. Participants receive guidance on foreclosure prevention, lending abuses, and high-risk loans. We also discuss building community and home maintenance and improvements.
If you are a homeowner or landlord facing foreclosure, our team can help prevent foreclosure by providing information on alternative possibilities and organizing negotiations between mortgage servicers and homeowners. We can also help with applying for a loan modification, short sale, and deed-in-lieu. If you missed mortgage payments, or if the loan already has been referred to an attorney for foreclosure, a HUD-approved housing counselor can assess the circumstances, identify options, and discuss a plan with your mortgage company.
Our financial coaching educates homeowners, landlords, and tenants about household budgeting and financial planning. Our experts create a plan to consolidate consumer debts and lower the interest rate, assist with general budgeting, discuss student loan repayment options, and help clients better understand and manage the cost of housing. The goal is financial literacy and a good credit score.
We do everything we can to prevent homelessness. This program works with individuals throughout Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties to stabilize finances and secure new and safe housing. We also educate and advocate with landlords to prevent eviction.
*Note: this service does not currently have a corresponding workshop