Housing Solutions Specialist
at Heartland Alliance

Date Posted: 7/29/2020

Job Description


Heartland Alliance (HA), in partnership with communities, is working to dismantle barriers and provide greater access to health and healing, safety and justice, and economic opportunity for the most vulnerable populations. Housing is a fundamental human right; however, homelessness and housing instability remain major barriers to achieving a more equitable society. Using the Housing First approach, Heartland Alliance has been tackling homelessness in Chicago for decades by offering a range of housing options and supportive services for youth experiencing homelessness, people living with HIV/AIDS, seniors, veterans, and low-income individuals and families. Our goal is to provide a pathway to personal growth, good health, well-being, and self-sufficiency through housing stability. 

We are currently piloting innovative models to sustain housing solutions for the most vulnerable, high-barrier populations. The advertised role will support HA’s efforts to design, pilot, sustain, and scale housing solutions for individuals with significant justice system involvement. Strong candidates will have expertise in housing case management, supportive service provision and tenant education. Candidates should have a record of working effectively with high-barrier populations. Candidates with lived experience, either with housing instability and/or criminal justice involvement, are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Role Summary

With guidance from the Housing for Justice-Involved Program Manager, and in collaboration with the Landlord Engagement Specialist, the Housing Solutions Specialist will design and implement innovative strategies to facilitate housing stability for individuals with significant justice-system involvement. The Housing Solutions Specialist will work with staff across HA, partners, communities, participants and housing providers to identify housing needs and opportunities and develop and implement solutions. Primary responsibilities include: assessing housing needs of HA participants, identifying and advocating for effective solutions, conducting tenant education activities, case management, cultivating relationships with key stakeholders, and supporting HA’s systems change efforts. This position provides a unique and exciting opportunity for anyone working in direct service to gain more experience in innovative program design and systems change efforts.  

Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 

Support Services

  • Manage a case load of participants that face several perceived barriers to housing stability including significant criminal backgrounds, inconsistent rental history, limited income, substance use, and/or mental health concerns

  • Conduct mediation between participants, landlords, neighbors, and service providers to help resolve conflicts

  • Complete prescreening, assessment and intake paperwork with participants; collect eligibility documentation

  • Complete and update individual service plans

  • Lead the provision of individual and group education and life skills development and tenant education support in the following areas: tenant and landlord rights, problem solving, budgeting and asset building, prioritizing, social living, independent living, maintaining a household, community involvement, and problem solving

  • Organize and attend recreational activities

  • Administer funds/resources for client assistance per program policies and procedures

  • Identify programs, resources, and services inside and outside of HA

  • Support participant’s community integration

  • Conduct home and/or community visits with participants Support positive relationship building between participants and landlords


  • Lead efforts to determine referral pathways within HA and to outside service providers as necessary to meet service plan goals

  • Support the finalization of lease and renter agreements

  • Facilitate and participate in care coordination

  • Conduct follow-up on referrals

  • Coordinate and collaborate with HA staff to meet program and participant needs

  • Network with other housing and service providers to ensure that the needs of the participants are adequately addressed

  • Develop and maintain professional relationships with social service, government, and community based partners

  • Work in close collaboration with READI program staff to coordinate and communicate housing needs and supports including the transitional jobs, outreach and coaching staff

  • Attend any regular meetings, as requested

Program Administration

  • Lead efforts to identify and address supportive service “gaps” and needs at the program level

  • Monitor participant and landlord satisfaction

  • Support data collection for program monitoring

  • Complete file reviews and other quality assurance activities as required

  • Complete notes

  • Use electronic database(s)

  • Support program documentation and reporting

Landlord Engagement

  • Maintain positive relationships with housing providers and landlords

  • Facilitate lease agreements and rental agreements

Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices

  • Adhere to professional standards as outlined by governmental bodies and or other appropriate professional associations, private funding sources, agency plans/policies and unity guidelines

  • Maintain basic knowledge of the relationship between mental health, trauma, and PTSD and housing instability

  • Use trauma-informed, strengths-based, harm reduction, and housing first approaches in all stakeholder interactions

  • Respond to all communication from program participants, landlords, HA/READI staff, and community partners in a timely manner

  • Bring enthusiasm and curiosity to testing solutions and developing programing in collaboration with program participants

Working Hours and Transportation

  • Available on an on-call basis based on program policies and needs

  • Available after regular work hours and on weekends, as requested

  • Available to work a flex schedule

  • A car is not required; however, access to reliable transportation is required.
  • Other duties may be assigned.

Skills & Qualifications: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Candidates with personal experience with housing instability, homelessness, and/or the criminal justice system are strongly encouraged to apply even if you do not meet all of the criteria listed in the education, experience, and skills section below.

Education, Experience, & Skills: 

  • A Bachelor’s degree in a social service field and three years of experience in advocacy services, case management or similar work in a direct service setting or an equivalent combination of education and experience or master’s degree in a social service field and one year of experience in advocacy services preferred, case management or similar work in a direct service setting

  • Experience in working with vulnerable populations including homeless and at-risk individuals; individuals with a history of trauma, psychiatric disorders, and/or individuals with substance use disorders

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills and access to regular, dependable and timely transportation, and comfortable collaborating with people of varying socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds

  • Proficiency in Microsoft office, including Outlook, Word, and Excel

  • Proficient in data entry and in using electronic and/or web-based databases

  • Able to work a smartphone and laptop, including utilizing a mobile hotspot, at the office or in the field

  • Able to type proficiently

  • Valid driver’s license is required (if you are going to drive the company vehicle), from the state the staff person currently resides in

Language Skills: Ability to read and interpret documents such program policies and procedure manuals. Ability to write routine reports and correspondence. Ability to communicate effectively with individuals and groups.

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.

  • Frequently required to sit, stand and walk (on a move in day or shopping day you can be your feet for good portion of the day)

  • For home visits the buildings may require walking up and down several flights of stairs sometimes multiple times in one day

  • Ability to bend and twist frequently

  • You may be requested to help participants carry groceries and/or household items, of a reasonable weight, and put those items away, which may require lifting items into cabinets

Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The noise in the work environment is moderate.

About Heartland Alliance

Heartland Alliance, one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, works in communities in the U.S. and abroad to serve those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. It provides a comprehensive array of services in the areas of health, housing, jobs and justice – and leads state and national policy efforts, which target lasting change for individuals and society.

Heartland Alliance opened its doors in 1888, pioneered, in part, by Jane Addams, founder of Hull House and one of Chicago’s first leaders in the movement to end poverty. From the beginning, we worked to bring healthcare, housing and support to people facing homelessness. Over the years, we’ve continued our mission, helping to restore dignity to the most vulnerable populations. We reconnected immigrant families separated at Ellis Island and became first responders during the Great Depression to those in need of housing. When veterans returned from World War I and World War II, we offered them the services they needed to recover. Later, as crises of homelessness, limitations on mental and physical healthcare services and the spread of HIV/AIDS reached a fever pitch, we were among the first to respond, opening some of Chicago’s first housing and healthcare clinics to serve those in need.

These principles still guide us today. We now work throughout the Midwest and in 12 countries around the world, using our experience to advocate for change. We serve more than 400,000 people each year, including refugees, those experiencing homelessness and chronic illness, and those seeking justice.

Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the Organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September, 1987. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation should contact the Employee Services Office at (312) 660-1431.

Job Snapshot

  • Employee Type: Full-Time
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Job Type: Other
  • Experience: Not Specified
  • Date Posted: 7/29/2020

About Us

It’s more than a job, it’s a purpose.

Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our multicultural staff are passionate about our mission and make Heartland Alliance a dynamic and exciting place to develop your career.

Join the Heartland Alliance Talent Network today to stay up-to-date on our current openings as they become available!

What is a Talent Network?

Talent Networks enhance your job search and application process. Whether you choose to apply or just leave your information, we look forward to staying connected with you.

Why Join?

  • Receive alerts with new job opportunities that match your interests
  • Share job opportunities through Social Media or email