Ten years ago, I started my journey of service. I first joined AmeriCorps VISTA in 2014 as a Summer Associate in Prescott, AZ. I went on to serve two consecutive, year-long AmeriCorps VISTA terms, the first of which focused on creating a culinary and gardening program for formerly homeless veterans. Then, I became an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader at Housing Action Illinoiswhere I still work today as the National Service Program Manager!

As I reflect on the last ten years, I am filled with immense gratitude, honor, and a bit of bewilderment at the historic impact our AmeriCorps network has collectively made. From the inaugural AmeriCorps cohort in 2010, to those just finishing their service in 2023, our journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. If a decade of service makes this much impact, I can only imagine what a lifetime of service holds.

Colorful mural of two people loading a couch into a moving truck with Chicago Furniture Bank on the side

Willie Heineke
National Service Program Manager

The housing crisis in Illinois, and nationwide, is a stark reality. Local organizations are grappling with meeting growing needs with limited resources, and aspiring voices in the housing field lack opportunities to gain leadership experience. The Housing Action AmeriCorps Network serves as a solution and a catalyst, helping organizations embark on new projects while offering professional development opportunities for AmeriCorps members.

Since 2010, our network has supported more than 350 AmeriCorps members and 100 organizations on countless projects. Our AmeriCorps members have recruited and managed 23,894 volunteers, leveraged $6,926,243.75 in funds, and helped 52,348 people receive housing services. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together, and look forward to continuing to grow the impact of our AmeriCorps network for years to come.

Colorful mural of two people loading a couch into a moving truck with Chicago Furniture Bank on the side

Housing Counseling Corps

In 2021, we launched a new initiativethe Housing Counseling Corpsto strengthen housing counseling programs and establish a path for AmeriCorps members to become certified housing counselors. Two years later, the Housing Counseling Corps expanded nationwide, supporting AmeriCorps members across Illinois and in 6 other states.


2023 Recruitment Success

The Housing Action AmeriCorps Network welcomed 40 AmeriCorps members in 2023—a new record for our program! Our network is building the capacity of organizations in Chicago and throughout the state, including in Decatur, Macomb, Rockford, and DeKalb. The Housing Counseling Corps recruited at 90%, placing eight AmeriCorps members at seven housing counseling agencies nationwide.

Increasing VISTA Pay

Experience from the past 14 years of our AmeriCorps program shows that offering supplemental benefits to the VISTA stipend matters: AmeriCorps positions are more likely to recruit, and AmeriCorps members are more likely to finish their service term. Host sites rarely offered additional benefits until we started promoting their impact in 2017. Now, the vast majority of our host sites (including every Housing Counseling Corps site) offer supplemental benefits, averaging $567 per month. Aptly, the most common supplemental benefit in our network is a housing stipend.

Life After Service Placement

Our dedication to AmeriCorps members’ success extends beyond the service term. We work hand-in-hand with each AmeriCorps member to ensure there is a seamless transition from AmeriCorps service to their future goals, whether that be employment, education, or continued service. In 2023, 90% of our AmeriCorps members secured their life-after-service placement by the last day of their term, surpassing the national average of 67% six months after service ends.

Group of AmeriCorps members smiling in a warehouse

AmeriCorps Alumni Associate Board

In 2024, we are excited to launch the AmeriCorps Alumni Associate Board, a platform for AmeriCorps alumni to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our network. By providing collaborative and supportive services for current and future participants, the Associate Board will be instrumental in guiding generations of AmeriCorps members.

Are you an AmeriCorps Alumni from our network? Apply to join the Associate Board »

2022-2023 AmeriCorps VISTA Program Outcomes

Click on the images below to learn more about the impact of our AmeriCorps network.

As I finish my first decade of service, I’m not looking for an end destination—I’m savoring the journey. 

In Service & Solidarity,

Willie Heineke

About the Housing Action AmeriCorps Network

AmeriCorps members in Housing Action’s network tackle a wide range of capacity building projects during a full year of service with organizations in our coalition.

2024 Host Site Applications are open until January 26. 

Learn more about the Housing Action AmeriCorps Network »