Housing Action

AmeriCorps Network

National Service with Housing Action Illinois

Each year, Housing Action connects AmeriCorps members with community organizations to address local challenges with local solutions. AmeriCorps is a national service program that provides opportunities for people to lead anti-poverty projects and build the capacity of community-based organizations. 

AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program take on a variety of roles at their host organizations, all aimed at helping our communities thrive. They expand the scale of programs and services, launch new projects, and increase available resources, such as volunteers, donations, and grants.

Since 2010, the Housing Action AmeriCorps Network has paired hundreds of AmeriCorps members with organizations across Illinois. Our network typically manages 30 full-year AmeriCorps members and 30 AmeriCorps Summer Associates* each year. AmeriCorps members serve at their host organizations for a 12-month term or for 8-10 weeks as a Summer Associate. 

In 2021, Housing Action launched the Housing Counseling Corps to strengthen housing counseling agencies and establish a path for AmeriCorps members to become HUD-certified housing counselors by the end of their service year. The Housing Counseling Corps expanded nationwide in 2023, placing AmeriCorps members with housing counseling agencies in Illinois and throughout the United States.

*Due to federal budget restrictions, the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program will not be offered in the 2024-2025 cycle. To support Housing Action’s advocacy efforts to increase vital funding for AmeriCorps programs, please contact Willie (willie@housingactionil.org).

Host an AmeriCorps Member

From launching new programs to growing volunteers and donors, AmeriCorps members leave a lasting impact with the organizations and communities they serve. They focus on projects that help their host sites build and enhance their services, resources, and partnerships to meet community needs in new ways. 

The Housing Action AmeriCorps Network typically accepts applications for host sites from December to February each year, and we begin recruiting for AmeriCorps members in April. Full-year AmeriCorps members usually serve with their host organizations from August to August. 

Host sites must be members of the Housing Action Illinois coalition and pay a project participation fee after the position is recruited. For more information, please see the Host Site Application Resources Packet.

Applications to host 2024-2025 AmeriCorps members are now closed. We will reopen applications to host 2025-2026 AmeriCorps members in winter 2024.

Want to hear from others who have hosted an AmeriCorps member? Check out testimonials from our AmeriCorps members’ supervisors »

Serve as an AmeriCorps Member

AmeriCorps members build up communities while building their future. They are placed full-time with their host organization, typically serving on-site in an office environment. AmeriCorps members tackle a variety of projects and activities, including program development, grant writing and fundraising, community organizing, research and data management, communications, and volunteer recruitment. 

After a year of service in the VISTA program, AmeriCorps members are prepared to take the next step in their education or professional goals. The Housing Action AmeriCorps Network provides customized training and networking opportunities to help launch a career in housing, homeless services, community development, and public service. 

Service terms last 12 months, typically from August to August. Find an opportunity that fits you »

Apply Now

Applications for 2024-2025 AmeriCorps VISTA positions are now open. Priority applications are due before July 12, 2024. We will begin posting available positions on this page and the AmeriCorps portal at the end of April.

There are two ways to apply to our positions: through Housing Action’s Quick Application or through the AmeriCorps portal. 

We received feedback that the AmeriCorps portal can be confusing and complicated to use, so we created our Quick Application as a way to make applying and interviewing for our positions simpler and more accessible. When you fill out the Quick Application, you can choose to apply for a specific position or be considered for multiple positions in our network.

If you are offered a position, you will still need to complete an official application on the AmeriCorps portal prior to starting service. For assistance using the AmeriCorps portal, read detailed instructions on how to apply »

Application Steps & Timeline

We begin accepting applications on a rolling basis for our AmeriCorps positions in February. Full-year AmeriCorps members serve for 12 months and typically start in August. 

  • February – Applications Open
  • May 1 – Application Review Period Begins
  • May-July – Interviews with Host Sites
  • July 12 – Priority Application Deadline
  • August 12 or August 26 – Service Begins

We will continue accepting applications through August, but cannot guarantee an interview or placement if an application is received after July 12. Earlier start dates in June or July may be allowed in certain circumstances, but we strongly recommend starting in August.

2023–2024 Positions

We will begin posting 2024-2025 AmeriCorps positions in April. The below map displays positions from our previous recruitment cycle to demonstrate the roles and organizations typically available in our network.

The AmeriCorps VISTA Program is a national service program that connects people and organizations to help end poverty and strengthen communities. Summer AmeriCorps members commit to serve communities full-time for 8-10 weeks from June to August, while full-year AmeriCorps members serve with organizations for 12 months (typically starting in August). Most of our positions are located in Illinois, but AmeriCorps members serving in our Housing Counseling Corps can be matched with housing counseling agencies nationwide. 

What does service look like?

As a full-year AmeriCorps member in the VISTA program, you would perform indirect service, which includes activities that help an organization enhance its mission, strategy, skills, and infrastructure to fulfill its mission. You would serve in an office setting, and your responsibilities might include:

  • Writing grants
  • Organizing a volunteer program
  • Developing a curriculum for a training
  • Other kinds of program design and implementation

You won’t be working directly with people in need. Instead, you’ll be helping to expand the capabilities of your host organization to better serve its community. You might not see the impact immediately, but your host site will continue to benefit from your efforts long after your term of service ends.

What type of compensation and benefits are available?

AmeriCorps members are full-time volunteers—VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America. However, AmeriCorps members do receive a modest living allowance to help cover basic expenses. With approval from their supervisors, AmeriCorps members can also work a job in their spare time, but they must be available to serve during regular business hours. In addition to the living allowance, AmeriCorps members receive several other benefits from the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Benefits During Service

AmeriCorps members receive a living allowance of $22,882 per year, distributed biweekly.

They also may receive the following benefits during service:

  • Relocation assistance (50+ miles
  • Forbearance/deferment of student loan payments
  • Healthcare allowance & special enrollment period
  • 10 personal & 10 medical leave days
  • Childcare benefits
  • Chicago metro area only: Ventra or Metra pass

Benefits After Service

AmeriCorps members receive an End of Service Award. They have a choice between:

Additional AmeriCorps alumni benefits:

  • Non-competitive eligibility status for federal employment for 1 year after service
  • Discounted trainings & events by Housing Action Illinois

Professional Development

Becoming an AmeriCorps member is a great way to serve your community while gaining experience at a community-based organization. The projects you take on as an AmeriCorps member help you develop marketable skills that can make you a competitive candidate when you apply to jobs and education programs after your term of service ends.

As a full-year AmeriCorps member, you will also participate in two In-Service Trainings (IST) as a part of your service. At the ISTs, which are specialized, multi-day, in-person training events, you will join other AmeriCorps members in your cohort to learn about topics and best practices relevant to your service. The first training, in the fall, will set you up for success during your term of service. The second, in the spring, helps you get ready to secure your next professional endeavor after you complete your term.

Ready to start building a career in affordable housing or homelessness? You can get to know others in the field through professional networking opportunities at Housing Action’s annual conference, which 250 housing practitioners from across Illinois attend each year.

Ahead of the Curve

In 2021, we published the findings from our survey of 169 AmeriCorps VISTA alumni who served in our network over the course of a decade (2010–2020). The findings show that a year of service can pave the way for a nonprofit career, help make a difference in your community, and be a meaningful way to learn about housing and homelessness.

See the key findings »


of survey respondents secured employment within 6 months of finishing service (national average is 67%)


of survey respondents believe or strongly believe their experience as a VISTA was worthwhile


of survey respondents were offered staff positions by their host sites (national average is 20%)

More About Our Network

Housing Counseling Corps

Housing counseling programs are crucial in combating the affordable housing crisis, but due to a nationwide shortage of HUD-certified housing counselors, agencies are struggling to meet community needs. In 2021, we piloted a new initiative of our AmeriCorps network—Housing Counseling Corps—to build the capacity of housing counseling programs and establish a pipeline of HUD-certified housing counselors to help more people secure safe and affordable homes. After launching the initiative in Illinois, we expanded the Housing Counseling Corps to match AmeriCorps members with organizations nationwide in 2023. 

AmeriCorps members in the Housing Counseling Corps spend a full service year learning about the housing counseling profession, becoming familiar with the specific programs and client needs of a housing counseling agency, and preparing for and taking the HUD Housing Counseling Certification Exam. After their service, members are well-positioned to begin a job as a HUD-certified housing counselor at their host site or another housing counseling agency. 

Housing Action facilitates housing counseling trainings nationwide and provides critical support and resources to housing counseling agencies throughout the Midwest as a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Intermediary. Housing Counseling Corps leverages the expertise and resources of our Capacity Building team and our AmeriCorps Network to fortify the housing counseling workforce in Illinois and throughout the United States. Learn more about becoming a Housing Counselor and applying for the Housing Counseling Corps

Interested in hosting a Housing Counseling Corps member at your agency? Read more about hosting an AmeriCorps member and reach out to americorps@housingactionil.org.

Recent Accomplishments

In fall 2023, we placed 40 full-year AmeriCorps VISTA members with host organizations around Illinois and in 6 states nationwide to strengthen communities and build the capacity of our coalition. In the previous cohort, serving from 2022-2023, AmeriCorps members & summer associates collectively: 

  • Raised $210,018 in grants, cash, and in-kind donations 
  • Recruited or managed 453 volunteers
  • Helped develop, repair, and make available 5,300 housing units
  • Connected 13,000 households with housing services

These numbers only tell part of the story—there are many other ways in which our AmeriCorps members build capacity for their host organizations. See below for spotlights on individual members.

A Moment in Our Movement

A Moment in Our Movement

In February, four generations of Housing Action AmeriCorps Network alumni attended the Illinois Affordable Housing Forum, a statewide affordable housing conference hosted by Illinois Housing Council. The Forum brings together housing industry leaders from across...

Service is a Journey, Not a Destination

Service is a Journey, Not a Destination

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...

Finding the Right Formula for Service

Finding the Right Formula for Service

“Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.”― Pierce Brown, Golden Son Before serving as an AmeriCorps member with Housing Action Illinois, I served as an AmeriCorps member for a year as a Literacy Tutor in the Las Vegas School...

From Furniture Bank to Food Bank: AmeriCorps 9/11 Day of Service

From Furniture Bank to Food Bank: AmeriCorps 9/11 Day of Service

Each year, AmeriCorps members around the nation support September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance by participating in day-long, direct service projects. With 40 full-year AmeriCorps members serving throughout Illinois and in 6 other states, the Housing...

Tackling Food Insecurity in Northern Illinois

Tackling Food Insecurity in Northern Illinois

When she first came to Northern Illinois Regional Affordable Community Housing (NI ReACH) in May 2022, Ezella thought she was just going to stay for a three-month internship. She was thinking about what she would do next when her supervisor encouraged her to apply for...

Now Accepting Applications for 2023 – 2024 AmeriCorps Positions

Now Accepting Applications for 2023 – 2024 AmeriCorps Positions

Each year, Housing Action matches AmeriCorps members with community-based organizations across Illinois. AmeriCorps is a national service program that connects people and organizations to help end poverty and strengthen communities. AmeriCorps members take on a...