Founded by local activists in 1972, Open Communities’ mission is to educate, advocate and organize to promote just and inclusive communities in north suburban Chicago. Its membership includes residents, congregations and civic organizations. A not-for-profit organization, its free and confidential services include investigation of fair housing discrimination and landlord/tenant complaints, foreclosure and predatory lending counseling and prevention, fair housing education and advocacy, and grassroots organizing.
The purpose of this position is to provide practical advice to landlords and tenants and build tenant leadership through education on rights and responsibilities.
Status: Reports to the Director of Fair Housing; full-time with flexibility required, exempt
TENANT/LANDLORD COMPLAINT INTAKE AND INVESTIGATION
Conduct intake and help resolve landlord/tenant problems such as lack of services or repairs, rent arrears, overcharges and disturbance
Develop strategies to prevent, investigate, and resolve landlord/tenant disputes in consultation with enforcement agencies and attorneys as appropriate
Empower tenants to negotiate with landlords where appropriate, and advocate before social or governmental agencies on behalf of specific tenants or tenant associati
Provide information to complainants on how to resolve their complaints on their own (e.g., return of security deposit, getting repairs, understanding the eviction process).
Assist tenants in advocating for their rights by sending letters on their behalf when complaints are particularly egregious
Work with low-income tenants who are threatened by displacement by conducting direct education & outreach to tenants about their rig These activities will include, but are not limited to: scheduling meetings, and providing specialized housing information as needed.
Maintain detailed investigative files and work to streamline the reporting process
Conduct strategically planned trainings for residents and landlords in our service area.
Collaborate with Fair Housing staff when landlord/tenant complaints have an allegation of discrimination; draft memos for Director of Fair Housing at the beginning of a possible allegation of housing discrimination
Utilize the news media for outreach and education activities, including writing for the in-house semi-annual new
Represent the organization to government agencies, major donors, the public, and in affordable housing or economic justice coalition
Assist as requested in organizing educational forums and eve
Provide testimony as needed to legislators and regulators for fair and affordable housing.
Prepare monthly, quarterly, and funder reports as needed
Increase awareness of Open Communities’ services to communities where currentactivity is low.
Exceptional oral and written communication skills, with excellent electronic technology skills
Ability to facilitate effective conflict resolution. Formal mediation skills are a plus.
Ability to help define options and roles, be an excellent listener and communicator, and motivate people to perform those roles. Highly personable and able to work effectively with people of different races, ages, faiths, abilities, and other backgrounds.
Strategic thinker. Energetic, creative and resourceful problem-solver.
Highly detail-oriented and organized. Excellent at follow-through.
Knowledge of affordable housing policy and municipal capabilities such as through zoning.
Ability to manage a large work load independently but also work collaboratively in a team.
Experience in client counseling either in a legal or non-profit setting.
Experience in advocacy or community organizing.
Mediation or conflict resolution experience a plus.
Knowledge of the law or legal experience a plus.
Bachelor’s Degree in relevant field of study required
Post Graduate Degree in relevant field of study a plus
Access to a car.
Able to attend night, early morning, and weekend meetings as necessary.
Must have a commitment to social justice.
Additional Salary Information: Commensurate upon experience
About Open Communities
Open Communities is a leading voice for housing, economic and social justice in north suburban Chicago, working to promote inclusive and diverse communities that are welcoming to all. Founded in 1972 by north suburban residents and congregations, Open Communities (formerly known as the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs) is a non-profit, membership-based organization whose programs include: Fair Housing Discrimination Investigation and Education, Foreclosure Prevention Housing Counseling, Landlord/Tenant Advice, Immigrant Leadership Development, affordable housing advocacy, and community organizing.