This spring, Housing Action is excited to welcome three new housing counseling agencies to our Housing Counseling Intermediary network: Central Detroit Christian CDC, The Housing Partnership, and Advantage Housing.

Housing counselors work with clients at all income levels to understand their choices when it comes to finding and keeping a good home. This expert guidance can include providing advice on home purchase or rental, financial management, mortgage solutions, discriminatory or predatory practices, preventing foreclosure and homelessness, and more.

Housing Action Illinois became a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary in 2014 in order to support this critical work. As an Intermediary, we aim to build the capacity of these vital housing counseling agencies. We provide pass-through funds and assist our affiliate agencies with reporting, training, and identifying funding opportunities. This enables our affiliate organizations to focus on meeting the evolving needs of their communities.

We started out with a network of 12 affiliate agencies in Illinois and Indiana, and since then, we have nearly doubled in size. With the addition of these three new affiliates, we will be managing a network of 28 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies who serve low- and moderate-income communities across Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Michigan.

We spoke with leadership from our new affiliate organizations to learn about how their work in housing counseling impacts their communities.


Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation (Detroit, MI)

Central Detroit Christian CDC was founded in 1993 after a coalition of pastors united to focus on youth ministry, job training and development, housing, and meeting direct needs of the Detroit community. Today, their mission is to use education, employment and economic development to empower individuals to reach their highest potential and transform the community into a place of Shalom—a place of peace and wholeness.

“We have a community-based approach,” says Executive Director Lisa Johanon. “The majority of our staff and board members are from the community, and all of our programs are operated with an extensive local network of about 2,000 volunteers each year.”

Central Detroit Christian CDC runs a number of youth and family programs, including creative arts, mentoring, tutoring, recreation, employment training, and parenting programs. Their adult programming consists of employment training in partnership with the organization’s 12 different businesses. These businesses not only employ 36 community members, but also provide important amenities for the area, such as fresh produce, affordable household items, and even a combination laundromat and exercise facility.

In the area of housing development, the organization has assisted low-income residents in fixing up nearly 200 homes as well as rehabilitating 200 units of housing and constructing 9 new builds. Alongside the active development of affordable units, Central Detroit Christian CDC provides extensive housing counseling services for families in tax or mortgage foreclosure and first-time homebuyers wanting to learn about finances.

“Central Christian CDC aims to be an agent of change to create a community of choice in central Detroit,” said Lisa. “Our housing counseling services provide the education many in our community need to manage their finances and make informed decisions about homeownership.” Learn more about their work »


The Housing Partnership, Inc. (St. Louis, MO)

After a devastating flood in the early 90’s, residents and businesses of the Lemay community came together with the St. Louis County government to form a new, community-based nonprofit. Twenty years later, The Housing Partnership is building on their successes in restoring the Lemay community to create healthy living environments, neighborhoods, and financially stable households across the Greater St. Louis area.

Their housing development work involves creating affordable rental lease-purchase homes, new and renovated homes for first time homebuyers, and home repairs for existing homeowners through volunteers and grant funding. The Housing Partnership also offers a Homebuyer Services program, which provides participants with individualized help building credit, improving money management skills, and learning about the homebuying process. First-time homebuyers with low- to moderate-incomes can also apply for down payment and closing cost assistance funding.

Executive Director Kate Reese is proud of the many successes their Homebuyer Services program has had so far. “Since 2014, we’ve provided homeownership education to nearly 400 households, individual advising services to 260 households, and financial assistance to 113 households purchasing their first home,” said Kate. “Homebuyer education programs like ours help families understand the responsibilities of being a homeowner and prevent mortgage delinquency.”

In the past year, the dedicated staff at The Housing Partnership—now five full or part-time employees—has found new ways to partner with other local organizations and community volunteers to achieve its mission. “We’ve been grateful for the partnership of groups such as the Roofing and Siding Contractors Alliance, who prepared a new roof for an existing Lemay senior home last summer, and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 562, who provided new plumbing and fixtures for another home this spring,” Kate described.

The Housing Partnership is planning other volunteer projects for this summer and looking for groups from churches, employers, families, and friends to increase their impact. To volunteer and learn more about their programs, visit their website or call 314-631-9905.


Advantage Housing Inc. (Kokomo, IN)

Advantage Housing Inc. was founded in 2011 by Maple Grove Community Church to support people with challenging housing needs in Howard County, Indiana. Just six years later, Advantage Housing has been able to expand their service area to encompass a five-county region in Central and Northern Indiana.

Programs at Advantage Housing range from securing permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness to helping first-time homebuyers prepare for the challenges of homeownership. Executive Director Dale Bliss emphasized how their services adapt to find solutions that address a client’s specific needs.

“We specialize in helping our neighbors in need overcome significant barriers to quality affordable housing,” explained Dale. “Every rental or homeownership opportunity is tailored to help clients address other circumstances in their lives that might prevent them from accessing private or public housing markets.”

Advantage Housing’s Rapid Rehousing and Homeless Prevention programs—which have already helped 21 families move from homelessness to permanent housing—address common barriers to finding and maintaining appropriate homes for individuals and families experiencing homeless. They also provide housing counseling to residents navigating rental housing and homeownership as well as advising for community members facing eviction or foreclosure.

Much of Advantage Housing’s successes rely on the strong relationships they have formed with other local agencies, governments, businesses, and nonprofits. Working with partners such as USDA, Habitat for Humanity, and local Housing Authorities allows staff from Advantage Housing to focus on housing while still connecting people to a range of other resources they need to tackle other challenges in their lives.

“Stable housing helps people, especially children, excel in life,” said Dale. “Having a quality, affordable place to call home allows people to focus on other challenges, like securing employment, improving their health, or pursuing education.”


2018–2019 Affiliate Network

  1. Access Living – Chicago, IL
  2. Advantage Housing, Inc. – Kokomo, IN
  3. Brightpoint – Ft. Wayne, IN
  4. CDBG Operations Corp. – E. St. Louis, IL
  5. CEDA – Chicago, IL
  6. CEFS – Effingham, IL
  7. Center for Changing Lives – Chicago, IL
  8. Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation – Detroit, MI
  9. Community Service Council of N. Will County – Bolingbrook, IL
  10. HOME DuPage (fka DuPage Homeownership Center) – Wheaton, IL
  11. Embarras River Basin Agency – Greenup, IL
  12. Ford Heights Community Service Organization – Ford Heights, IL
  13. Genesis HDC – Chicago, IL
  14. Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County – Champaign, IL
  15. HOPE of Evansville – Evansville, IN
  16. Housing Opportunities – Valparaiso, IN
  17. Housing Opportunity Development Corp. – Techny, IL
  18. Justine Petersen, Inc. – St. Louis, MO
  19. Kingdom Community – Chicago, IL
  20. Menard County Housing Authority – Petersburg, IL
  21. METEC – Peoria, IL
  22. Northside CDC – Chicago, IL
  23. Oak Park Regional Housing Center – Oak Park, IL
  24. Respond Now – Chicago Heights, IL
  25. Restoration America – Crystal Lake, IL
  26. South Suburban Housing Center – Homewood, IL
  27. The Housing Partnership, Inc. – St. Louis, MO
  28. Western Egyptian Economic Opportunity Corp. – Steeleville, IL