Northern Illinois ReACH
Northern Illinois Regional Affordable Community Housing (NI ReACH) – previously Winnebago County Housing Authority – was established in 1940 and has a long history of serving the needs of the community. It serves more than 1,600 families through approximately 20 different programs in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson, Ogle, Jo Daviess and Dekalb counties.
It manages the Boone County Housing Authority and half of the Freeport Housing Authority program, and its affordable housing nonprofit developer has completed about $80 million in new housing and rehab housing since 2005. As a high-performing agency (as recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and NAHRO), the organization sought an opportunity to rename and rebrand to better align with its region, reach, scope, and vision for the future.
Chartwell facilitated an organization-wide discussion to develop a brand that is more accessible to the people who need NI ReACH’s services most. The new brand also needed to help counter the negative stereotypes often associated with poorly managed housing developments.
The new name, brand, and website were designed with NI ReACH’s communities in mind, providing a first impression and informational resources that are modern, accessible, and most importantly, friendly. Those in need of housing should feel comfortable that the organization has the knowledge, capability, and compassion to assist them through the often-intimidating process.
The new website, while designed with current and potential residents at the forefront, also needed to meet the needs of NFP partners, agency partners, potential donors/supporters and the community at-large. It shares information and promotes the importance and value of affordable community housing, dispelling the stigma often associated with it.
Chartwell assisted with the public launch of the new brand, helping set the stage for the announcement, build excitement, and communicating through the change to establish a solid foundation for ongoing relationships. Chartwell developed communications for use with regional media, on social media platforms and for direct stakeholder communications.
“Changing the name of our agency was one of the most complex, delicate, and important decisions we would make, for we were literally defining our identity. We trusted Chartwell to help us make the right decisions, keep us on track, and have fun with the process.”
Alan Zais, Executive Director, NI ReACH