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RISMEDIA, January 21, 2009-Heeding incoming President Barack Obama’s call for a renewed spirit of public service, the Illinois Association of Realtors(R) (IAR) announced a new campaign of volunteer service to help Americans achieve and maintain safe and decent housing.

IAR President Pat Callan said the yearlong Realtors Renewing America campaign will call on the Association’s 55,000 members throughout Illinois to renew and redouble their housing-related volunteer efforts.

Throughout the campaign, the Association will serve as a clearinghouse for new and ongoing Realtors volunteerism related to housing, and will provide specific opportunities and projects for Realtors to serve. The Partnership for HomeOwnership, a HUD-certified counseling agency, plans to extend its network of housing trainers, instructors, and counselors in 2009 and will be recruiting Realtors to assist in that effort. The Association will continue and expand Realtors volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and similar independent projects to provide housing construction and rehabilitation and other related services in disaster-torn communities and other areas in need.

“Illinois Realtors have a strong tradition of public service. But as our incoming president has pointed out, these challenging times summon us to do even more for our fellow Americans who are in need,” said Callan, broker-owner of Realty Executives Premiere in Wheaton. “Through the Realtors Renewing America campaign, we will provide our members the opportunity to serve, and inspire them to serve by sharing examples of their fellow Realtors. Illinois Realtors will answer the call.”

The IAR program was inspired in part by Obama’s Renew America Together public service initiative, which officially launched today on Martin Luther King’s birthday, with a nationwide day of community service held in conjunction with the inaugural celebration.

The Partnership for HomeOwnership (PFHO) component of the IAR campaign will involve training more Realtors to become housing counselors for low- and moderate-income home seekers. PFHO, a not-for-profit foundation organized in 1996 by the IAR to provide consumer education to low-income Illinois residents hoping to become homeowners, also is exploring training for other aspects of housing counseling, including foreclosure counseling.

“Now more than ever, Illinois residents need expertise and guidance when making decisions about homeownership,” said Sue Wiskowski-Fair, president of PFHO. “We look forward to enrolling even more Realtors into our training program so they can ensure that Illinoisans can not only achieve the dream of homeownership in a financially responsible way, but also maintain their existing homes in the face of financial hardship.”

The IAR campaign is expected to last throughout the year. Other features will include establishing an online service linking Illinois Realtors with housing-related volunteer opportunities and providing information and peer testimonials to encourage volunteerism by members of the Association.

For more information, visit www.illinoisrealtor.org.

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