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…


$1,000 DONATION MILESTONE: Rocking the Year of the Ram!


Manager Ben Lau, Housing & Financial Education Department



Manager Yicklun Mo, Elderly Services Department




Manager Brenda Arksey, Child Education & Development Services



Manager Ricky Lam, Employment & Training Department


The possibilities are endless, and the need for your support is tremendous! Once we achieve each of the donation milestones, there will be RAM-ifications—the photos for the coordinating Board or Staff members get released! Donate NOW to help the following CASL Family members into a pair of horns, and make those pictures go viral!

CASL Launches Two New Housing Assistance Programs

HFED workshops and classes are always critical components of housing success

HFED workshops and classes are always critical components of housing success


At a 10:00 AM press conference on Monday, December 15, CASL will announce the official launch of TWO one-time housing assistance programs:

1. Closing cost assistance for first-time homebuyers
2. Rental/security deposit assistance for renters who have hardships

The two programs are funded through the Office of Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, who dedicated $70 million in funding from the national foreclosure settlement for housing counseling services and relief efforts for Illinois communities that have been impacted by foreclosure crisis.

CASL was awarded a three-year grant to implement a holistic multiple-approach strategy to address foreclosure, stabilization and revitalization of their community through:

  • Prevention: educational workshops to empower families on how to avoid foreclosure;
  • Intervention: foreclosure counseling, referrals and support;
  • Preparation: by educating and supporting renters as well as the next generation of homebuyers who in the past were ill-informed, unprepared and easy preys of predatory lenders;
  • Rental/security deposit assistance for new immigrants who want to live in a specific community, families who recently lost their home due to foreclosure or tenants who are affected by foreclosure or other hardships;
  • New homebuyer closing cost assistance for families who are educated, well-informed and prepared to become first-time homebuyers.

The maximum amount of the one-time rental assistance is $700 whereas the maximum amount of the one-time closing cost assistance is $1,000.

For rental/security deposit assistance, eligible households must have an annual income not more than 150% FPL (Federal Poverty Level), have hardships, and are required to attend financial education classes.

For closing cost assistance, eligible households planning to buy their first home must not earn more than 120% AMI (Area Median Income), and are required to attend first-time homebuyer workshop.