PROGRAMS PROVIDED FREE OF CHARGE IN CHICAGO’S NORTH & NORTHWESTERN SUBURBS
HOUSING COUNSELING & EDUCATION
Open Communities is the only housing agency in the northern suburbs of Chicago certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as qualified to help those threatened with the possibility of losing their home. Our Housing Counseling department works to help families stay in their homes and connect their communities to important resources. We do this through Foreclosure Counseling, Financial Literacy, Rental Assistance, and Rental Mediation.
FAIR HOUSING TESTING & ENFORCEMENT
Open Communities is an HUD-designated private enforcer of fair housing laws. When community members experience discrimination in the housing market, they can turn to Open Communities for guidance. Open Communities can investigate the allegations of discrimination through fair housing testing. "Testers" are people who pose as potential renters or homebuyers in various real estate situations in order to determine whether unlawful discriminatory housing practices are taking place. As a private enforcer of the fair housing laws, Open Communities can choose how to enforce fair housing laws when it does uncover evidence of discrimination.
Overall, Open Communities prefers to educate rather than litigate. Staff provides training to local community members so the people who face discrimination the most know their rights and how to exercise them. Open Communities also educates the housing provider industry, including landlords, property managers, and realtors.
Open Communities provides pro bono representation for our clients in matters concerning evictions, foreclosure, and housing discrimination. Our Legal Aid Clinic works in tandem with the HUD Housing Counseling and Education Department as well as the Fair Housing Department to provide defense and affirmative cases for our clients. Together, our first step is to make sure all possible avenues of resolution have been explored before referring you to the Legal Aid Clinic.