Agency Background – Meeting the Need:
The Community Housing Resource Center was the outcome of eighteen months of intensive research that was conducted by the Community Reinvestment Alliance (CRA) Working Group appointed by the city of Vancouver in 1993. Research revealed there was a wide array of home ownership assistance programs available for low/moderate income first time homebuyers but the knowledge of the availability was not widespread. The principal recommendation of this group was the formation of the Housing Center in 1995 to remove barriers to homeownership by facilitating the process through education and counseling. Soon after, the agency incorporated as a private non-profit 501(c)(3). For the past several years, it has received and retained its HUD certification that demonstrates CHRC continues to meet the national housing counseling standards.
The Climate Today:
The economic downturn has had a devastating effect on our community as it has eroded the security and stability of our families and individuals throughout Clark County, Washington. Unemployment figures for Clark County (reported in April 2012) reached over 15%–the highest the county had experienced to date and among the highest in the state. A greater number of families with children, veterans returning from war, and households who had lost jobs and their homes had become the new faces of the homeless. These are the very families who once enjoyed a lifestyle that allowed them to contribute to the vitality and stability of the community through homeownership. Strapped with debt and with little knowledge of how to take charge in the process of rebuilding towards financial stability—the growing barrier that often prevents finding housing, obtaining insurance, or getting a job—they are turning to CHRC for assistance with debt management and the tools necessary to rebuilding credit and establishing a solid financial footing.
The Agency Today – Expanding programs to address growing needs:
The Community Housing Resource Center continues to offer its comprehensive homebuyer/ownership classes and counseling but has expanded its programs, services and one-on-one counseling to meet the increased demands of its community in southwest Washington. It has developed public/private partnerships with the local city and county government administrations and social service agencies to bring their clients as well as the greater community, the high standards and best practices the agency has incorporated into administering its financial literacy and counseling program.
Whom do we serve?
The Community Housing Resource Center primarily serves—but is not limited to—individuals and families from Clark County and Southwest Washington and from Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties in Oregon who seek education and/or counseling for first time home-buying, financial counseling to repair and improve credit, mortgage default & foreclosure counseling, or HECM or reverse mortgage counseling. Clark County continues to trail other counties within the state who are beginning to see slow but somewhat steady growth in employment. Most clients of CHRC are of low to moderate income and seek our services to assist them in building towards a stronger financial future and housing stability. We have guidelines and procedures that protect the confidentiality of our clients and promote consumer information, the impartial nature of our services, and the mission and values of our organization. Only trained and certified staff provide the one-on-one counseling.
Orientations and classes are always free.
We believe every individual who comes to us for quality financial education and/or counseling for purposes of homeownership, making informed decisions about mortgage default/foreclosure options, budgeting, or reverse mortgages, has the right to receive it regardless of their ability to pay. For mortgage default/foreclosure counseling, the only fee is a small one for the credit report. For families whose income falls at or below 50% of HUD’S median income are not assessed a fee.
Pre-purchase, credit restoration, budgeting, debt management & financial assessment through unlimited one-on-one counseling for up to one year is $100.00 which includes the credit report. Again, families at or below 50% of HUD’s median income are not charged. Clients seeking Reverse Mortgage Counseling (HECM) are charged $125.00 which again includes the credit report. All fees are posted at the point of entry, discussed when setting appointments, and gone over in detail at every class or orientation.
Limited English Proficiency:
CHRC has two full-time Spanish/English speaking housing and mortgage default/foreclosure counselors. This is more than adequate to serve Clark County’s large Hispanic/Latino population. Russian speaking clients may bring their own interpreters or CHRC seeks out translators from a community source. Other members of the staff have secondary language skills including Portuguese and Italian although their skill-set is rarely needed.
CHRC works with our community and beyond:
In addition to our direct services, the Center’s staff is actively engaged in community partnering to promote financial stability and literacy through the statewide Asset Building Coalition, the Bank-On Initiative, and prison outreach opportunities for financial education. It actively partners with Second Step Housing, Vancouver Housing Authority, Salvation Army, PIC, Dress for Success, SHARE and other agencies to provide their clients with a skill-set that can lead them to an independence from private or government support and on to financial stability.
Our Volunteers—Professionals in their fields:
We couldn’t do our work without the many volunteers who represent their fields of business or service and share their professional expertise with our clients. Each volunteer instructor is trained by attending an individual orientation with the Executive Director and observes a class prior to doing any teaching. Our volunteers must (and do) share our values and be deeply committed to our mission. We screen our volunteers and monitor the way they instruct at class and how they do business and work with any of our clients. Our partners are in competition with one another in their businesses, but work together as a team to promote homeownership opportunities for our clients. Should they not adhere to the Center’s standards or maintain a high standard of ethics and neutrality, they are removed from volunteer status.
Mission Statement: Our mission is to help our community’s families establish financial self-sufficiency through quality education and counseling in order for them to obtain better employment, housing stability, homeownership, and financial security.
We accomplish this through classroom education and one-on-one confidential counseling.
Vision Statement: Families who are financially self-sufficient help create a more vital and thriving community and that benefits all of us.