Housing agency spotlight

Elgin housing agency helps families secure the American dream
By Tara García Mathewson

NHS story

Evelio Villanueva, his wife, Irma, and son, Tavo, 16, in their South Elgin home. Villaneuva got a loan modification on his mortgage with the help of Neighborhood Housing Services of the Fox Valley. Photo by Laura Stoecker.

Evelio Villanueva started to get behind on his bills when his wife got sick. In early 2009 he tried to get a loan modification from his bank but was denied. Two years later he lost his job and the need for some type of mortgage relief on his South Elgin home was critical.

Villanueva went to Neighborhood Housing Services in Chicago first but was later directed to the Elgin office, where he ultimately got help to reduce the interest rate on his mortgage from 7.9 percent to 2 percent.

“They give you hope, they talk to you, they listen to your situation,” Villanueva said. “Thanks to them, I’ve been back on my feet.”

NHS of Elgin existed for decades before 2007, when NHS of the Fox Valley was borne of negotiations between Neighborhood Housing Service of Chicago and the City of Elgin. The local branch is now a satellite office for the Chicago organization.

Johnny Placeres joined the agency as its director in 2007. He said the mission of NHS of the Fox Valley is to create opportunities for homeownership, improve people’s lives and strengthen neighborhoods. For the last five years, much of the focus has been on saving people from foreclosure.

The next five years, though, depend on how the community changes. Maybe foreclosures won’t be the top issue down the road.

“We have to tailor our services to the needs of the community,” Placeres said.

Read the full story here.

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