Housing Counselor Margo Probst—who is nearing her third year with C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation—takes pride in being able to help her clients with their housing needs.
Individuals will come to Probst upset, feeling helpless and frustrated—they are often at risk of losing their housing due to being unable to pay rent or are already experiencing homelessness. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring housing access and stability. Solutions are attuned to the individual’s needs—whether they need extensive case management, financial advising, tax help or assistance looking for housing, Housing Counselors like Probst are there to assist them at every step.
“Let’s look at some of your barriers, and let’s look at some of your really strong points. Then, let’s put those altogether and see what kind of plan we can come up with,” says Probst. “I’m in the perfect position to serve and learn.”
For 57 years, C.E.F.S. has been helping everyone they can in the communities that they serve. From infants to the elderly, residents of the Christian, Clay, Effingham, Fayette, Montgomery, Moultrie, and Shelby County can take advantage of C.E.F.S. extensive network of social service programs, all aimed at assisting those who are economically and socially disadvantaged in their quest for self-sufficiency.
Housing Action Illinois and C.E.F.S. staff visit during 2017 Housing Action Caravan. From left to right: Barbara Waymire and Cindy Mayer of C.E.F.S. and Scott Tankersley, formerly of Housing Action.
C.E.F.S. provides a vast array of services, ranging from education to housing to transportation. When individuals and families come to C.E.F.S. looking for assistance, they can often be referred to a program within the agency itself rather than having to split their time and attention between multiple agencies.
Frequently, those assisted by housing counseling need it due to circumstances beyond their control—an issue that has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 public health crisis continues, many feel the weight of both pre-existing and new financial burdens, making it difficult to navigate day-to-day life. Maintaining access to safe, stable housing is key to not only preserving their physical health during the pandemic, but their mental health, as well.
Since the start of the pandemic, housing counselors such as Margo have had to pivot to provide their guidance through mediums like emails, phone calls, or Zoom meetings. However, when meeting virtually was not feasible, C.E.F.S. counselors have met their clients in-person, maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing masks. Even during the most difficult stretches of the pandemic, Probst and other housing counselors at C.E.F.S. were there to help their clients navigate economic and social issues they were facing, working to ensure that their clients could obtain and maintain immediate and long-term housing.
“[Our clients] found a stable, secure, and comfortable environment, they could go above and beyond just day-to-day survival mode,” says Probst. “[They are] able to pursue not just surviving, but their passions.”