December 10, 2019 | Posted by Justin Weidl

Voice of the People in Uptown is an affordable housing organization. Established in 1968 as a community response to concerns about demolition and displacement, Voice emerged as a community developer of rental and ownership housing. It administered special programs benefiting tenants and youth in the sponsored developments. Voice engaged tenants in property management and organized them on issues of social justice. Eleven properties have been developed in partnership with others for affordable housing, but the organization has for some time operated slightly below the public radar.

Now, the organization is hard at work, strategically planning for its next fifty years – spearheaded by new executive staff, leadership and professional support.  Most importantly, the organization has a renewed commitment to reaching out and collaborating with businesses, non-profit advocates, service partners, and institutions.

It has reintroduced itself to residents and to neighbors in block clubs. Voice is starting construction on a three-building Voice Preservation Project, raising the profile of aging buildings with modern entryways, new color palette in apartments and halls, new kitchens and baths, sustainable gardens and upgraded heating/hot water systems. These properties at 4861 and 4927 N. Kenmore and 4409 N. Racine, are being financed and funded by Community Investment Corporation (CIC) and Elevate Energy, Chicago’s premier resource for energy saving solutions.

In the spring of 2019, Loyola’s Center for Urban Research & Learning (CURL) hosted a gathering of housing providers and service agencies. They came together on how best to deliver services to residents of affordable housing.  Challenges and lessons learned were shared, laying the groundwork for collaborations and strategies in Voice’s revamped Resident Opportunity Services (ROS) program.

Supported by Voice’s new Resident Services Coordinator, ROS will be characterized not only by legacy organizing efforts, but with voluntary support services and engagement with other nonprofits. These services are now available to all members of the 214 households in Voice’s fourteen buildings in the Uptown Community.

Finally, to match the broader efforts at change, Voice has updated its look with logos, branding materials and moved into new, higher profile offices at 4611 N Sheridan Road.  Through it all, leadership remains committed to a worthy mission, one that recognizes that affordable housing is a human right, and that

every person deserves the chance to live in a great community.

Voice of the People will continue to make this possible and sustainable with property and asset management; providing and connecting residents to support services; and via collaboration, advocacy, and preservation efforts with other owners and organizations.