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HOUSING COUNSELING SERVICES INC

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Homeless & Housing, Housing Search Assistance, Housing Support, Human Services, Personal Social Services

Mission: Housing Counseling Services, Inc. (HCS) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1972 to provide comprehensive housing counseling, training, advocacy and housing opportunities for low and moderate income home buyers, homeowners and tenants; to help them to achieve successful living in healthy, safe and affordable homes. Our goal is to prevent homelessness and increase access to long-term housing opportunities by providing the skills, self-esteem and empowerment necessary within families and communities. Further, HCS works to build the individual and group capacity for economic, physical and social development of homes, neighborhoods and communities. HCS believes in a bottom-up approach to community services and believes that by training and educating our clients, they will be better equipped to gain control over their own lives and environments. HCS stresses that counseling is merely a conduit for improved conditions; and therefore supports, participates in and advocates for increased development of affordable housing. HCS places additional priorities in removing barriers for groups without adequate access to services such as immigrant, Spanish speaking, handicapped, homeless and elderly populations. Through a comprehensive delivery of services, HCS prevents homelessness; strengthens the abilities and self-esteem of individuals and communities to prevent problems from recurring; empowers individuals, families and communities to take control of housing and community development opportunities; develops affordable housing opportunities; ensures that families secure access to social, economic and other services and programs in order to prevent deterioration and improve family and community structures; and prevents the stress on family and community structures caused by overpriced, unsafe and overcrowded housing and the lack of housing opportunities.

Programs: Since 1972, HCS has assisted thousands of families to become homeowners; stop foreclosures; stop evictions; learn their rights and responsibilities; mediate disputes; improve budgets and credit; purchase multi-family buildings; form cooperatives; organize tenant associations to prevent displacement or improve conditions; understand responsibilities; locate and receive social services; find affordable housing; locate emergency shelter, food and clothing; renovate, repair and maintain homes; learn about energy conservation measures; make homes accessible to handicapped and elderly residents; understand issues of importance to the community; and become trained and educated about housing options. HCS serves more than 10,000 low and moderate-income families each year. There are five major components to the HCS program: Social Service, Advocacy, Training, Development, and Homeownership. COUNSELING/SOCIAL SERVICES: The goal of this component is to reduce the stress on individuals and families caused by substandard, unsafe and overpriced housing. This is implemented through comprehensive housing counseling and social service referrals. While HCS assists households with an immediate housing problem, the ultimate goal is to assist clients to anticipate and avoid future problems and become self-sufficient. Counseling entails intensive one-on-one sessions and closely monitored client actions. ADVOCACY: The goal of this component is to work on behalf of clients to assist them to secure safe, decent and affordable housing. HCS assists clients in learning their rights and responsibilities and in securing services and opportunities. An objective of this service area is to prevent and fight discrimination in housing, prevent the loss of affordable housing, and to rectify unfair and inadequate treatment. HCS assists persons who have economic, language, age, educational and physical barriers in securing good and affordable housing. Advocacy entails monitoring clients through a legal battle, purchase process, rental process, foreclosure or other crisis. HCS offers special assistance to Spanish speaking clients and maintains an active relationship with other bi-lingual organizations. TRAINING: The goal of this component is to assist people to develop skills necessary to meet their own housing need. HCS offers workshops and courses on all housing issues, providing step-by-step instruction and informational workbooks to be used as ongoing resources. DEVELOPMENT: The goal of this component is to provide technical assistance, counseling and training during the conversion process to coop or condo. HCS works as a member of the development team of affordable housing projects to ensure that tenants are fully involved in the decision making process during conversion, financing, rehabilitation and transfer of ownership. HOMEOWNERSHIP TRAINING AND COUNSELING PROGRAM: This component is designed to prepare first time homebuyers for making important decisions through a firm understanding of what the purchase process and homeownership entails. HCS has developed a comprehensive program that reduces property deterioration and foreclosures and improves financing opportunities. The program starts with previously "unbankable" tenants, and prepares them for home-ownership, providing training and technical assistance during the process and offering follow-up counseling and training.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

7

Client Served

Rating: 4

Housing Counseling Services INC, is a wonderful non-profit oprganization that has been serving the Columbia Hieghts community for decades now. My personal experience with housing counseling services has been a great one. I found out about housing couseling services through a co-worker of mine when I was looking for assistance to purchase my new home.In my visit with housing counseling services I recieved great support with steps to go forward in purchasing a home . I also attended a first time home buyers workshop which provided me with knowledge to make my transition alot easier. In addition , not only does housing counseling services have pleasant and helpful people working for them but,they also have resources to asisst the community with food and shelter in helping the under priveledged and homeless in the area. This is a great non- profit organization that the community can really benefit from.

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

My organization, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), DC Metro Chapter offered 4 foreclosure prevention workshops during 2009. Each 4 workshops (3 in Virginia, 1 in Maryland)were offered on Saturdays. Housing Counseling Services Inc.; there staffs work 6 days a week and have overwhelmingly loaded with work however,each time, they did not hesitate to commit to help with our workshops. I call it a real committment and Housing Counseling Services Inc. deserves to win "Food and Shelter Awards".