October 29, 2014
By Felix Sarver
Local and state groups met Wednesday to develop a plan that would help Latinos gain access to education, housing and health care.
The Illinois Latino Family Commission and Illinois Welcoming Center coordinated a community dialogue among dozens of residents, organizations and local leaders.
The dialogue, which also addressed employment and family issues, comes after the Spanish Community Center was selected in October to house an Illinois Welcoming Center.
The Joliet organization is one of several statewide that serve as one-stop shops for social services designed for immigrants and refugees.
Wednesday was the beginning of a community alliance among agencies, said Silvia Villa, director the Office of Latino Affairs for the Illinois Human Services Department.
“What happens in government … is that we create things. We create big policies, and then we move on to the next one with no transition. So we have a commitment that the welcoming centers will survive beyond us,” she said.
Attendees identified insufficient income, poor financial literacy, lack of job opportunities and not knowing housing rights as barriers to decent and affordable housing.
Income has not kept up with rising housing costs, said Pam Terrell, Catholic Charities community services director. She also said there is a disparity among housing offered on the East and West sides of Joliet, along with a lack of access to community resources.
“If you have no gas stations or banks or grocery stores on your side of town, that has a significant impact,” she said.
Attendees said people who are homeless struggle with transitioning to owning or renting a home because of poor credit history and undocumented income. They would need information on how to budget their money and repair their credit.
Sometimes, tenants do not know their housing rights, said Abdi Maya with the Illinois Human Rights Department.
“When I first started renting, I had no idea that it would be a great idea to walk through the unit with a landlord so I wouldn’t get charged for damage that was already there to the property,” she said.
Source: The Herald-News