Athena Williams, Executive Director of Oak Park Regional Housing Center (OPRHC), is a 20-year resident of the Austin neighborhood. Born and raised on Chicago’s West Side, Athena has fought for the community as a longtime community organizer and activist. The OPRHC is a full service Housing Counseling Agency located at 5934 W. Lake St, 60644, known as the West Cook Homeownership Center.
The agency provides homebuyer education and counseling; rental education, assistance, and counseling; foreclosure prevention services and credit & debt management, and, in the past our Austin Ascending program. The West Cook Homeownership Center has serviced the Austin community for many years, assisting more than 120 families to become homeowners. In 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the OPRHC assisted more than 200 households with rental assistance.
Earl L. Chase is Executive Director & Vice President of Real Estate of Heartland Housing. Earl brings over 20 years of experience to building affordable housing, revitalizing neighborhoods, and bolstering communities.
Heartland Housing has been in the Austin Community for more than 23 years supporting affordable housing. Heartland Housing is committed to building strong communities and resident-focused housing. Heartland Housing’s commitment to the Austin neighborhood is further enhanced by Heartland Alliance’s overall programming, including ongoing outreach, healthcare, and workforce development services through our READI Chicago program.
The Team - Organizational Partners
Oak Park Regional Housing Center
The Oak Park Regional Housing Center (OPRHC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1972 offering free services to housing seekers and housing providers. Our primary service area is Western Cook County but our services are available to people throughout the Chicago region. No matter where you want to live, the OPRHC will assist you in your search.
Housing is the fundamental structure of opportunity. Fair housing drives diverse schools, social networks, encourages citizen participation, and enables access to employment, transportation, health services, childcare, and other local resources. OPRHC directly impacts Oak Park and the region in the following areas:
Expanded housing options for people of all races
Assisting building owners to keep properties attractive and marketable
Ensuring strong demand for Oak Park housing by marketing to home seekers around throughout the region
Providing free rental service to more than 2,000 apartment seekers annually, supporting racial diversity and integration
The Housing Center is a model and resource for other communities striving to achieve racial integration
Heartland Housing develops and manages sustainable, innovative, and high-quality affordable housing. In partnership with social service providers, we help our residents change their lives. We create housing where people most need it, and collaborate with local stakeholders to develop properties that meet community needs. We are committed to:
Developing and managing housing with a strengths-based philosophy
Designing safe, productive, healthy communities
Building housing that supports residents and community members alike
Connecting residents and participants with the resources they need to thrive
Key Team Partners
Valerio Dewalt Train
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