Open Communities is a non-profit organization that seeks to eradicate housing discrimination, an illegal and divisive force which perpetuates poverty, segregation and limits opportunity. Established in 1972, Open Communities educates and advocates for equal housing opportunities in the north suburbs of Chicago and enforces federal, state, and local fair housing laws. Open Communities also engages in activities to encourage fair housing practices and to open dialogue leading to increased housing equity in our communities.
This Fair Housing VISTA will be hosted by Open Communities located in Evanston, IL. Open Communities is a part of the Housing Action AmeriCorps Network, an AmeriCorps VISTA program managed by Housing Action Illinois since 2010. As such, this position will receive customized training, support, guidance, and networking opportunities, in addition to the traditional opportunities for AmeriCorps VISTA positions.
Open Communities’ mission is rooted in achieving housing justice through fair housing and housing counseling activities. Our mission is to ensure that housing in Chicago’s northern suburbs is fair and inclusive; we pursue this goal by offering workshops, investigating housing discrimination, providing support to low-income homeowners and home-seekers, advocating for policy change, and more. The AmeriCorps VISTA member will provide critical work through indirect services such as community outreach, workshop development and delivery, grant compliance coordination, and organizing. The member’s work will span several diverse projects.
First, the member will join our fair housing team to co-develop, organize, and execute a comprehensive workshop curriculum and library. Second, the member will lead special outreach projects in historically marginalized communities to expand our counseling participant base. Third, the member will partner with our development team to improve agency-wide compliance and reporting tools. Fourth, and finally, the member will organize community meetings with various stakeholders to better identify and address community needs in the realm of housing. The most important qualities in a candidate are an understanding of and commitment to housing justice, strong communication skills, and adeptness in using research and data.
Member Duties : This position can start on October 24, November 6, December 4, and January 17. The VISTA member will provide communities with the educational tools to exercise fair housing rights – this will require researching and communicating fair housing laws, designing workshops, and speaking to public audiences. The member will engage in outreach and organizing projects – these duties will require adept interpersonal and communication skills and an understanding of the history of systemic racism and other forces which have shaped housing inequities. Finally, the member will engage in internal capacity development through work on grant compliance – this will require strong writing and organizational skills. Throughout the VISTA member’s year of service, they will have access to consistent supervision and a collaborative approach to meeting the agency’s needs while utilizing the member’s particular strengths and preferences.
Reports to TBD
Fund raising/Grant Writing, Communications, Recruitment, Housing Law, Writing/Editing, Community Organization, Public Speaking, Education, Research.
Current Work Conditions: Hybrid work schedule. All positions require proof of vaccination, or appropriate religious or medical exemption. Some use of a vehicle is required for this position. This is a flexible 40-hour schedule with some calls/client contact needed to be made outside of the general 9-5 schedule to accommodate clients. Travel as required for national training.
Why Work for Us?
At Open Communities, we don't just accept difference — we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it. We believe that diversity and inclusion among our teammates are critical to our success, and we seek to recruit, develop and retain the most talented people from a diverse candidate pool. We value critical thinkers, problem solvers, and the ability to laugh with each other. Open Communities is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace.
In response to this new variant and concerns form staff, clients and board members, Open Communities has decided to move forward with a mandatory vaccination policy. As a condition of employment, all full-time, part-time, temporary, seasonal, on-call employees of Open Communities must receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
To be compliant with this requirement, employees must do one of the following:
• Provide Open Communities with proof of immunization within the specified timeframe. Proof of immunization must include a copy of documentation showing the vaccine was received, but it should not include any personal health information or family medical history information; or
• Comply with the designated procedure for obtaining a permissible exemption as described in our full policy. If employee has an approved exemption, employee will not be able to work in the office with other vaccinated employees. They must continue to work remote.
Program Benefits : Childcare assistance if eligible , $300 Monthly Supplemental Benefit , Training , Living Allowance , Relocation Allowance, Choice of Education Award or End of Service Stipend , Health Coverage* .
Bi-weekly Living Allowance: $675 +
Segal Education Award: $6,495 or
Cash Stipend Award: $1,800) +
Agency Stipend: $300/month
If the education award is chosen, this is roughly a $27,645/yr value.
*For details about AmeriCorps VISTA healthcare benefits, please visit http://www.vistacampus.gov/healthcare