Housing Action Illinois is excited to bring together two of our programs—supporting housing counseling agencies and managing a network of AmeriCorps VISTA Members—for a new initiative: the Housing Counseling Corps.
We plan to launch this initiative in the fall of 2021.
Building a Pipeline of Certified Housing Counselors
Through the Housing Counseling Corps, we will place AmeriCorps VISTA Members with housing counseling agencies in need of new talent and HUD-certified housing counselors.
During a full year of service, these Housing Counseling Corps Members will have the chance to learn about the housing counseling profession, become familiar with the specific programs and client needs of a housing counseling agency, and prepare for and take the HUD Housing Counseling Certification Exam. They will be well-positioned to begin a job as a certified housing counselor at their host site or another housing counseling agency.
Meanwhile, the hosting housing counseling agency will have the opportunity to expand their capacity through the projects undertaken by their Housing Counseling Corps Member and build a talent pipeline for the field. When the Housing Counseling Corps Member’s term of service comes to an end, the agency will hopefully hire them as an already certified housing counselor who has been on-boarded at their organization. They will also be notified of other Housing Counseling Corps Members who have completed a term of service, passed the certification exam, and are looking for professional opportunities.
Newly certified housing counselors at the 2019 Housing Matters conference
How can an AmeriCorps VISTA Member help your housing counseling agency?
AmeriCorps VISTA Members spend a full year helping their host site through indirect service activities. This means they can take on activities and projects that build the capacity of an organization to do more and do it better. This includes positioning an agency to better carry out its mission, adapt new strategies and help staff learn new skills, and designing or improving programs, systems, trainings, and processes for an organization to meet community needs. Capacity-building activities help an organization gain greater independence and sustainability.
- Increasing your agency’s reach and client base by creating and updating outreach materials and systems, setting up partnerships in the community, and simplifying intake forms
- Digitizing your services so they can be accessible during this pandemic and training staff members to use these digital systems
- Conducting community assessments to grow your geographic footprint
Housing Action Illinois AmeriCorps Members at a National Day of Service
Timeline & Key Dates
Application Process for Host Sites
- Applications for host sites will be available by early August.
- We will hold an informational webinar about the Housing Counseling Corps for interested housing counseling agencies on August 24. Register here »
- Interested host sites must apply by September 10.
- Housing Action will give feedback to applicants to strengthen their applications. Revised applications can be submittied within 5-7 business days.
- Housing Action will announce host sites on October 1.
- On October 13, we will hold a webinar for housing counseling host sites to learn how the AmeriCorps recruitment and interviewing process works.
Recruitment & Start Dates
- By October 15, host sites will be able to start recruiting.
- Depending on when a candidate is given an offer and confirms their interest, AmeriCorps VISTA Members may start their terms of service on December 6 or January 6 (subject to change depending on the national CNCS calendar).
- Project participation fee required
- Host sites must be current members of Housing Action Illinois
- Chicago area organizations must provide a Ventra or Metra pass for their AmeriCorps Member
- Housing Action strongly encourages organizations to offer supplemental benefits to AmeriCorps Members, such as a housing stipend and/or gift cards to grocery stores, which increases the chances of securing a candidate for your AmeriCorps position and supports them as they serve a year on a limited stipend
Interested? Have questions? Email National Program Service Manager Willie Heineke to learn more.