Built out using $44,000 raised from the housing nonprofit’s “Brick By Brick” campaign, the Chatham outpost will offer all of the same services as Neighborhood Housing Services’ other locations, including homeownership classes and lending assistance. The new office will also serve as a community hub, with meeting rooms neighborhood groups can use.
The goal was to make the new location “welcoming, beautiful and designed for community use,” said Neighborhood Housing Services President Kristin Faust.”We’ve blended 21st century technology with NHS staff, so we think we have the best of both worlds.”
The Chatham office was built with help from Lenox Jackson of Urban Equities, Canopy Architecture, ACN Designs, In Touch Solutions and Verity Energy Efficiency, taking nearly two years to complete.
While the office is officially open for business, there’s still a little more work to be done on the building’s second floor, said Tiffany Smith, Neighborhood Housing Services’ neighborhood strategy coordinator, who has deep roots in Chatham.
“This is a long time in the making. My dad came up from Alabama and got his first apartment in Chatham, and when he married my mom, they got their first house in West Chatham,” said Smith, a second-generation Chatham resident. “Chatham has experienced some challenges, but bright colors you see on the walls here are indicative of the sunny days we want to return to.”
“I walked through this building three years ago, and it definitely didn’t look like this,” said Nedra Smith Fears, executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative, which has partnered with Neighborhood Housing Services for the last two years to make homeownership more accessible in Chatham residents.
“With Chatham, Auburn Gresham, and Greater Grand Crossing being the size of a mid-sized city, we need as many service providers that can tell people how they can realize their dreams of owning a house, staying in a house, and passing it along generationally,” said Fears, who has benefitted from Neighborhood Housing Services programs. .
The new office will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and during some evening and weekend classes.
Launched in 1975, Neighborhood Housing Services is a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization that works to help homeowners access affordable housing and strengthen neighborhoods. Their services include homeowner education; lending to help people buy, fix and keep their homes and foreclosure intervention services.
Story by Jamie Nesbitt Golden / Block Club Chicago