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About Us


Athena Williams

Project Co-Lead

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 Chase

Project Co-Lead

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.

About Us: Team Members

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

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

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Bowa Construction


Valerio Dewalt Train

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Latent Design

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