Community group offers housing counseling

Starting on July 9, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation will offer housing counseling.

At your service: NKCDC offers services including foreclosure prevention, energy assistance, rent and property tax rebates and more. Pictured are (from left) Joseph Filipski, Sakinah Lester, Mary Campbell and Marc Collazzo. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

When the New Kensington Community Development Corporation reached out to the Mayfair Business Improvement District, executive director Marc Collazzo was receptive.

Collazzo dealt with the NKCDC when he worked for state Rep. John Taylor. Now that he works for the Mayfair BID, in a neighborhood with fairly strong property values, he wants to maintain a high living standard.

NKCDC, with its reputation as a one-stop shop for housing needs of any kind, seems to be a perfect partner.

“I’m very excited about it,” Collazzo said. “It’s another way to provide crucial services.”

Starting on July 9, NKCDC will be offering housing counseling every Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St.

“There are a lot of services we can offer,” said Mary Campbell, NKCDC’s director of housing services. “We’re targeting individuals out here.”

And the best part?

“Out services are free,” Campbell said.

Services offered are foreclosure prevention, energy assistance, rent and property tax rebates, legal title issues, weatherization, credit counseling, crisis support, household budgeting and first-time homebuyer education.

In the last decade, NKCDC and other citywide agencies have prevented some 11,000 foreclosures.

“We change people’s lives,” Campbell said. “We’re good at what we do,”

Sakinah Lester, a housing/energy counselor at NKCDC, explained that the agency held three workshops focusing on utility bill assistance for Mayfair-area senior citizens. The agency got the sense that people in the Northeast were hesitant to travel to NKCDC headquarters at 2515 Frankford Ave. (near Lehigh Avenue).

“We saw a need to open up shop up here,” Lester said.

NKCDC welcomes people from Mayfair and all other Northeast neighborhoods to use its services. In fact, the services are open to people across the city.

Home visits are also an option, and NKCDC attends court hearings with clients, directs them to food bank locations, reminds them to file the Homestead Exemption and submits applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

NKCDC promotes itself as an advocate.

“We believe in a comprehensive approach to solve people’s problems,” said Joseph Filipski, NKCDC’s assistant director of housing, whose focus is foreclosure prevention.

Lester, who stressed that people don’t have to be in crisis to use NKCDC’s services, describes it as a holistic approach to dealing with clients.

“We review them for every program we offer,” she said. “We review the entire household.” ••

New Kensington Community Development Corporation counselors Joseph Filipski and Gloria Santiago will be at the Mayfair Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent St., on Mondays and Fridays, starting July 9, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The NKCDC will also make group presentations. To make an appointment, call 215–427–0350. For more information, visit nkcdc.org