As Home Market Stabilizes, Housing Counselors Change Focus

Excerpts from an article by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University

…At the Chinese American Service League (CASL) in Chicago’s Chinatown, foreclosure work has plummeted “dramatically,” said Ben Lau, manager of housing and financial education. His clients are beginning to enter the market, often looking for bargains among foreclosed stock…


…Credit building is the biggest challenge for Lau’s clients, many of whom are new immigrants who have little or no credit or documented income. “When they go to see mortgage specialists in banks, they have to provide at least two years of income,” he said. “There are a number of existing bank projects that can help clients build credit, but for some you have to deposit at least $500.” 

CASL, in partnership with Mission Asset Fund, helps clients form lending circles, where each member need contribute as little as $50 a month. Each month one member is permitted to withdraw a loan to help build credit history…


…In addition to prepurchase help, the agency provides rental assistance. That department has experienced an uptick in requests recently, Lau said. CASL is among the many organizations that have begun to focus on low-income renters, including many affected by the foreclosure crisis, Legenza said…

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