The South Austin Coalition Community Council hosted a housing fair, a week ago Wednesday, in conjunction with the regular monthly seniors meeting, at their satellite offices, 5701 W. Congress Pkwy. SACCC’s Theresa Welch-Davis recruited several service organizations to come to the Austin community and provide seniors with information ranging from energy assistance to legal advice.

Among the services offered, Welch-Davis listed the home program, which offers senior citizens free minor repairs to their homes. “We also had CEDA (Community and Economic Development Association) weatherization, People’s Gas, ComEd. “We had a CUB (Citizens Utility Board) representative to talk about the scams that are going on with the gas company. We had United Insurance to talk about renter’s insurance, legal assistance to talk about foreclosures, Metropolitan Tenants Org., Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Fire Dept. and overall it was a good informative forum.”

CEDA representative Jesse Starr described weatherization as “a year-round program. We do low-income qualifying homes to make them more energy efficient. It’s a totally free program as long as you meet income guidelines. We service single family homes, multi-unit buildings; anywhere you’re living, we can weatherize your building. The program has been revamped under the Obama administration with the American Reinvestment Recovery Act. Last year in Cook County we did about 2,000 homes. This year we’re doing 9,000 homes. Next year, we are doing 12,000 homes just in Cook County. We do many things to help you save on your cost of heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. We look at windows, doors and anything to save energy. It is not only for homeowners but renters also. We have over 150 sites in Chicago and you can always contact CEDA where your closet site is located.”

Sonya A. Young, manager at United Insurance, explained that “a lot of our older people rent, and they don’t have renter’s insurance. They don’t understand if something happens to their personal items, the building is not going to cover their personal property. You can’t go to your family for $5,000; you can’t go to the bank and get this money. So this is to help them. It does not have to be their property. It could be the apartment next door. What we would do is come in and give them money. We don’t find them a place to stay, but we will give them money to find a place. We’re located at 4415 W. Harrison, Hillside.”

Sarah Baum, attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation, said, “I’m a staff attorney so I was advising people about the different types of law that my organization handles, specifically focusing on housing law and home-ownership issues. We assist in a variety of civil legal services from family law to housing law, bankruptcy, consumer law, employment and unemployment issues. We focus on people who live in subsidized housing, Section 8 and trying to preserve subsidized housing. We have had a lot of calls recently about tenants who are living in foreclosed homes, so we advise on that. And we also have a homeowner’s preservation project called (HOPP) Home Ownership Preservation Project and that project is for homeowners going through foreclosure.”

SACCC staffmembers Elce Redmond, Theresa Welch-Davis and Bob Vondrasek, who were all present at the forum, provide services and information to the people of the Austin community. The satellite office for seniors continues to function under the leadership of staffers such as Lillian Drummond, Rev. Elizabeth Bynum and Juanita Rutues.