The Northwest Side Housing Center recently contacted Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) and requested training for housing counselors who are preparing to broaden their services to include renters. Counselors from the Northwest Side Housing Center, the Spanish Coalition for Housing, the Center for Changing Lives, and the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council were able to attend LCBH’s training and we discussed a variety of matters impacting their clients such as termination notices, the impact of foreclosure on renters, and issues related to lead poisoning. Now, when these housing counselors encounter renters needing legal assistance, they have a trusted resource in LCBH as well as the tools they need to asses and refer those clients.
For many years housing counseling agencies have been important resources in their communities, offering counseling, support and assistance to homeowners who are trying to save their homes from foreclosure as well as assisting and educating applicants seeking mortgages. These agencies offer free help to residents in their local community with respect to housing issues. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulates these housing counseling agencies.
Recently, HUD expanded the list of services, which these agencies may offer to their communities. The goal is to increase available services and include counseling and advice to renters and homeowners with respect to homeownership; locating affordable housing and rental assistance; property maintenance; financial management; and other matters which may assist them in improving their housing conditions. Renters can go to these local agencies and get a clear and objective understanding of their rights and obligations as renters. They can discuss what to do if they are in trouble and if needed, they will be referred to legal counsel earlier in the process. This can often make a big difference in improving or preserving their housing.
LCBH is pleased to support to these agencies that provide valuable information for renters in their own communities. We look forward to a continuing partnership with housing counseling agencies that can look to LCBH for legal expertise. Working together, we can all help more renters throughout Chicago.