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, immigrant leadership development, fair and affordable housing education and advocacy, and grassroots organizing for just and open communities.
This individual is highly personable, a team leader, visionary, analytic, inquisitive, and energetic. This individual will supervise all agency housing justice functions, with the understanding that fair housing and the promotion of a just, inclusive, and diverse North Shore underlies all programs. This individual will also direct systemic fair housing testing and the investigation of housing discrimination complaints, as well as coordinate fair housing education and outreach activities. This individual must be passionate and committed to human rights, and understand the gravity of structural racism.
Status: Reports directly to the Executive Director; full-time with flexibility required
FAIR HOUSING ENFORCEMENT, INVESTIGATION, MEDIATION, AND LITIGATION
Lead on all fair housing cases and responsible for initiating enforcement, investigation, mediation and litigation
Serve as in house counsel on fair housing cases as well as other general Open Communities business where necessary
Initiate outreach necessary to locate and serve victims of housing discrimination, scam lending, and related violations of housing rights. In conjunction with the Director of Communications and other staff, this can include local publicity, community meetings, collaboration with municipalities, outreach fairs, etc.
Conduct intake of housing discrimination complaints.
Develop strategies to prevent, investigate, and resolve incidents of discrimination in housing in consultation with attorney on retainer, enforcement agencies, or other attorneys to whom cases have been referred.
Oversee Fair Housing Testing & Education Coordinator in the recruitment, training, assignment, debriefing and supervision of volunteer testers, including during evening and weekend hours by phone as necessary.
Oversee the Fair Housing Analyst in the review of potential cases.
Assist in assigning, planning, and structuring fair housing test investigations; prepare written summaries of test results; compile statistical data from test results.
Collaborate with outside legal counsel where necessary with the preparation of evidence for the filing of fair housing enforcement actions.
Initiate systemic testing within the rental, sales, lending, and appraisal markets, collaborating with area municipalities and fair housing groups where appropriate.
Conduct non-traditional fair housing investigations, including field work, meetings with tenants’ or homeowners’ associations, and statistical research in support of investigations as needed.
Maintain detailed investigative files.
Assist in monitoring real estate ads and publications.
Prepare written reports summarizing testing program on a regular basis, including reports to HUD and other relevant funders.
HOUSING PROGRAMS SUPERVISION
From the perspective that Open Communities’ mission is to promote just and inclusive northern suburbs, coordinate all Fair Housing Enforcement, Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, and Landlord/Tenant Programs as integral open housing vehicles.
Compile performance reports from the staff of Open Communities’ housing programs for the Executive Director and funders at least monthly and as needed.
Work with housing staff on funding renewal grants for Executive Director review.
Evaluate outcomes of each program and work with staff coordinators to recommend adjustments to the Executive Director.
Maintain HUD housing counseling and fair housing certification through timely and thorough reports, and participation (personal and supervised staff) in capacity-building seminars and workshops.
Represent the organization to government agencies, major donors, and the general public.
FAIR HOUSING EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Help organize activities in support of fair housing goals, particularly in April (National Fair Housing Month)
Provide testimony and technical assistance to municipalities and other government entities in adopting policies and programs that affirmatively further fair housing, as well as promote affordable housing.
Assist in the development of fair housing fact sheets and other educational publications.
Represent Open Communities in local and regional housing advocacy groups, including the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance and the National Fair Housing Alliance.
Assist with, and participate in, other Open Communities programs and events as assigned.
Law degree and licensed to practice in the State of Illinois. Admission to the Federal Bar recommended. At least three years of supervisory work experience in the field of housing policy, investigation, counseling or advocacy.
Experience in, and commitment to, fair housing enforcement and civil rights.
Experience in foreclosure prevention housing counseling desirable.
Excellent written, verbal, and analytical skills.
Excellent computer skills.
Highly organized and detail-oriented.
Solid understanding of unconscious and structural racism.
Successful public speaking, facilitation and training experience.
Strong research skills.
Ability to work with people of all races, ages, and diverse backgrounds.
Flexible work schedule required.
Knowledge of real estate required.
Access to car required.
Mediation and conflict resolution experience desirable.
Knowledge of Spanish desirable.
Knowledge of the northern suburbs highly preferred.
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.