Rockford, Freeport housing nonprofits merge

Staff Report

Two area non-profit agencies with deep roots in helping the northern Illinois region merged Jan. 1. Neighborhood Housing Services of Freeport (NHS) and Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition joined staff, resources and programming.

The merged organization with offices in Rockford and Freeport is named HomeStart and will serve a 10-county region in northern Illinois.

Deb Elzinga, executive director of the newly-formed organization, explained: “Both of our organizations saw an increased need for housing-related services and began talking about how we could deliver more services to more people. After nearly a year of discussions and working on the details, we are proud to have formally joined together.”

For the past 15 years, NHS delivered a range of sustainable home ownership and community improvement services while the Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition formed in 1992 and provided housing counseling, down payment assistance, homeownership education, and individual advice, and counseling to address all aspects of home ownership, including preparation, purchase, maintenance and foreclosure issues.

The merger will allow the newly-founded organization to offer those existing services plus secure additional funding, provide regional trainings and realize cost-savings resulting in the ability to offer increased services and help more people with home ownership-related issues.

Bill Leibman, president of the new organization’s Board of Directors, said: “Our organizations worked together and built a solid relationship over the past three years. Because of the many successes of that partnership, it was a logical decision by both boards and staff leaders to ask the question, what could we further achieve by merging our organizations together? This merger will strengthen our ability to deepen our mission and to provide our core services to underserved populations in ways that truly make a positive difference for those we serve and for the broader community.”

From the Jan. 16-22, 2013, issue

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