In Decatur, a new initiative is shaping a positive change for community investment and homeownership access. Community Investment Corporation of Decatur (CICD), a nonprofit focused on small business development and lending, as well as housing counseling, has been expanding access to homeownership education and newly rehabbed properties in partnership with the City of Decatur.

CICD joined Housing Action Illinois as a member organization nearly ten years ago, when Housing Action became a HUD Intermediary. As a HUD Intermediary, Housing Action secures funding from HUD and passes it on to an affiliate network of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in the Midwest, such as CICD. For CICD, says Danielle Taylor, a housing counselor at the organization, working with Housing Action as part of the HUD Intermediary network has made the process of applying to grants and NOFOs (Notice of Funding Opportunities) easier: “It’s been very instrumental when it comes to grant funding time,” she says.

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

Jim Seaberg, CICD; and James Miller, Housing Action Illinois

 In the past couple of years, CICD has worked with Housing Action on this new project with the City of Decatur to make more homes available to their clients. “Housing Action gave me an ear… someone I could speak to, who knew what was going on and understood the ramifications and all the potentials,” says Jim Seaberg, the President of CICD.

Collaborating closely with the Capacity Building team at Housing Action Illinois, CICD recently signed an agreement with the City of Decatur to start a new phase of the project. The City currently owns or has control of hundreds of properties, and they are planning to update some of those properties. “[The City] has decided through a variety of studies that it is more cost effective and better for the community to take properties that are ‘rehab-able’ and bring them up to code, and then make them available to homebuyers,” explains Jim, rather than destroying homes and creating many empty lots. The goal of this project is to increase the amount of affordable homes available in Decatur and make homeownership more accessible to more people.

As part of this agreement CICD will be managing what the City of Decatur calls the “homebuyer ecosystem”—educating future homeowners and helping them through the process of purchasing homes through their housing counseling program. The CICD’s educational program will prepare and empower people to buy a home. The objective, Jim says, is that “when someone completes the training education counseling program through CICD, that person or family will be eligible to go to a bank and be mortgageable.” Working with housing counselors at CICD, such as Danielle, clients will receive the education and information necessary to buy a house.

Touring a rehabbed home in Decatur

Through this program, CICD aims to make homeownership possible for all. “We’re inclusive,” says Danielle. “As a housing counselor, one of my roles is just educating and advocating for any and everybody.”

Similarly, Jim emphasizes, “Homeownership is attainable. Anyone, if they work hard enough, can work towards homeownership.”