(Harvey, IL) – Today, the Housing Authority of Cook County’s (HACC) Homeownership Program hosted a Homeownership Workshop at Turlington West Apartments in Harvey, IL. Public officials and representatives from partner organizations addressed HACC residents from across south suburban Cook County looking to take the first steps toward owning a home.
“To those potential program participants currently in the room, today is about you,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “June was National Homeownership Month, and while we’re a few days past, you all have kept the celebration going by deciding to take the first step toward this important part of the American Dream. I am proud to say that, since its inception in 2010, HACC’s Homeownership Program has helped guide nearly 100 residents toward this dream throughout the County.”
President Toni Preckwinkle, HACC Executive Director Monocchio, Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark and Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims were all in attendance to support the potential homeowners’.
“It is heartening to see so many people ready to make investments in their communities,” said newly-elected Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark. “My administration is committed to helping Harvey residents do just that, in any way we can.”
Before the topical presentations, attendees heard from former program graduates about their journeys to homeownership. They spoke about the barriers they encountered along the way and how success felt at the end.
One woman, Veronica Willis, couldn’t help but hold back tears as she told her story.
“At one point, I didn’t even know if I would have a place to stay at all,” Willis said. “But I just leaned on my homeownership counselor…she told me that not only would I have a place and be ok, but that I had what is takes to be a homeowner. I kept taking the steps she told me to, and it all worked out faster than I ever expected.”
After the speaking program, representatives from U.S. Bank, CEDA, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Anderson Law, Sk8 Home Inspection Services presented on topics such as down payment assistance programs, affordable lending programs, homeowner legal rights, available properties, the home inspection process and weatherization strategies, among others.
“We want you all to come out of this workshop with the understanding that this can be a complicated process,” said Richard Monocchio. “We also want you to understand that, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, our Homeownership Program is here to provide the support necessary to reach your goal.”
HACC’s Homeownership Program assists Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipients as they take the steps necessary to become first-time homeowners. Participants must have been employed for two years, have a FICO/Credit score of 640, have the funds necessary to cover closing costs, as well as meet the income requirements to receive a first-time homebuyer loan from the IL Housing Development Authority (IHDA). Eligible HCV participants are matched with a Homeownership Counselor who is charged with providing counseling and advice at every step of the home buying process.
Nearly 100 program participants have now successfully closed on homes through the Homeownership Program since its inception 2010, with more scheduled for the remainder of the year. While Homeownership Program participants are welcome to search for homes throughout HACC’s jurisdiction, the vast majority have closed in communities throughout south suburban Cook County, most notably in Chicago Heights, Homewood and Matteson, IL.
A PEW report published in 2018 noted that, nationally, the black homeownership rate is only 41 percent — virtually unchanged from 50 years ago, when the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in access to housing. In comparison, the national white homeownership rate is 71 percent.
“With homeownership rates in struggling and minority-based communities dwindling, the Housing Authority of Cook County is proud to re-commit to the cause of assisting our residents seeking to invest in their communities,” said Richard Monocchio. “Events like this are a testament to the fact that, when the public and private sectors come together, communities can change for the better.”
Residents interested in learning more about HACC’s Homeownership Program are encouraged to reach out via email at [email protected]