Voice & Partners “In the News”

In many countries, people in most need of food, shelter and services are provided for by direct government support. In the USA, where we heavily rely on non-profit organizations to provide these basic needs, funding and technical/programmatic challenges are significant and perpetual. The story in the Tribune of the Heartland Alliance saga provides context for this with painful details.

Amid crises, however, comes opportunities for other organizations to step up, and in the case of service-enriched affordable housing, preserving properties that are home to residents who represent the cornerstone of racial, economic, and needs diversity in communities like Uptown. Voice is seeking to save one of many buildings at risk of sale to the marketplace — the San Miguel Apartments — by partnering with the National Housing Partnership Foundation. We are also pressing for solutions with our advocate partners and legislative leaders to save even more. Read Article.

Heart of Uptown Apartments Announced

Voice of the People in Uptown with its partner, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), is proud to announce plans for the upgrade of five residential properties with 103 leased homes beginning as early as the Fall 2024. Residents who live in these buildings are providing their input into the process with meetings kicking off a year in advance ! Read the full project description here.

If you live in buildings at 847 W Sunnyside, 4130 N. Kenmore, 927 W. Wilson, 4431-41 N. Clifton, 900-02 W. Windsor/Hazel, the first meeting will be at Wilson Abbey, 939 W. Wilson Avenue, Thursday, May 25th at 6:00 pm. Dinner will be served at the accessible third-floor location next to Everybody’s Coffee.

Residents of these properties can fill out a survey of improvements they recommend for their apartment and building — on flyers or with the Survey Online.   Learn more or check for updates on the proposed redevelopment called the Heart of Uptown Apartments or HUPA.  Follow the link to the HUPA Home Page, where information will be updated on planned improvements and resident services.

Both Voice and POAH have policies of Development Without Displacement and believe affordable housing is the key to achieving sustainable economic, racial, and needs diversity in the Uptown Community of Chicago.

46th Ward Statement

Angela Clay is a long-time former tenant, board leader and president of four years, and now the winning candidate for 46th Ward Alderperson. The election has brought attention to the importance and challenges in creating and maintaining affordable housing, which is critical to sustaining economic and racial diversity in Uptown.  Read Our Statement.

The Dovie Thurman Affordable Housing Trust

Following board action in the fall of 2022, Voice of the People has authorized the formation of an Affordable Housing Trust named after a legendary tenant and community leader, Dovie Thurman. Incorporated in January 2023, the Trust will be dedicated to assuring permanent affordability of housing that is adequately supported by advantaged access to economic and resident services benefits. The initiative will start-up over two years, include three Voice owned properties, and be opened up to include other eligible affordable housing owners and developments thereafter. Read Announcement. If you believe in a vision of sustainably diverse Chicago communities and want to learn about, or endorse, the governing principles of the Dovie Thurman Affordable Housing Trust, visit our web page for Trust Allies and Supporters.

Property Owners Need Love Too

Over time, our organization seeks to be a voice and resource center in support of affordable housing residents and owners — so that residents can meet their needs and achieve their goals, and owners can viably continue affordable housing into the future. Our cornerstone program Resident Opportunity Services (ROS) and the newer Voice Owners Network (VON) are programs intended to expedite such services.

Initial VON outreach for owner assistance services is happening now to affordable housing development sponsors in Uptown, as well as private owners who have mixed-income housing with rent subsidies. Priority #1 is supporting our collective interests in achieving property tax relief through appeals in process with the Assessor’s Office and with appeals agencies like the Cook County Board of Review… favorable taxes helps to maintain affordable housing and sustain racial/economic diversity.

To protect and preserve affordable housing into the future, Voice will seek to help owners, including their asset managers, property managers, and resident service providers, to build their capacity via networking among professionals, and sharing access to information and resources so that they might increase their revenues, decrease their costs, access funding, subsidized financing and technical assistance that makes their affordable housing developments socially and economically sustainable.

Owners, managers and tenant service providers can see our MAKING HISTORY VIDEO,  or READ MORE about announcement and proposed networking and services that could be available in the future. People can CALL 773.769.2442 to schedule a brief informational interview about the Voice Owner’s Network, or simply go online to REGISTER specific interests, and stay current with related news and activities.

Voice Announces Diversity Land Trust

Voice of the People in Uptown announces the formation of an Exploratory Committee for the possible establishment of a community land trust — one that would lock in lasting affordability for housing providers. A blue-ribbon panel of affordable housing developers, consultants, lenders and university researchers will advise Voice’s community board with recommendations for the proposed “Diversity Land Trust”. If successful, it might not only benefit Voice and the Uptown community, but be more broadly used in Chicago to support sustainable economic and racial diversity. READ MORE

Back to School Season…

The Back to School season can be both an exciting and stressful time for parenting adults and students alike. While this year is sure to be no different in this regards, it certainly brings a new set of challenges and concerns as CPS kicks-off remotely. This time around schools are more prepared and have a set plan. While the expectations of school staff have increased, so have the expectations for students and their families.

Hopefully, you have also had the chance to prepare and set up a plan of your own. However, as the school year starts you may find that the reality of virtual learning is different than anticipated and your plan may change and evolve to best fit your family’s needs.


Here are some tips and resources we’ve put together to help you set your student up for success.


Set (and keep) a schedule

This may seem like a given, especially with the set schedules that CPS has implemented. However, you may find it more challenging as time goes on to keep said schedule. As mentioned, the schedule you first set, probably will need some modifications as you and your student(s) adjust. You should allow some flexibility in order to accommodate needed changes, but once you’ve got something that works, stick to it.

Insure that the schedule is clearly communicated by writing it down in a central location as to hold everyone accountable. Utilizing a timer to avoid losing track of time can help keep everyone on track. Be sure to incorporate breaks that include movement, whether it be a change of scenery, some light stretching, yoga, meditation, coloring or other craft projects. The sky is the limit! The important part is that it breaks up the day and is meaningful to the child. This will allow for better concentration throughout the day, encouragement to keep on schedule, and flex time if an activity or task takes longer than anticipated.


Create a daily plan.

This differs from a set schedule as it involves identifying to-do items for that day. It results in a specific plan for that specific day. Some people find utilizing a paper or digital planner/calendar to be helpful. While others prefer different list making strategies.


Make sure students have the right materials.

Whether its pencil and paper, a stable WiFi connection, log-in information for all accounts, a PDF reader, or note-taking apps or reading strategies– whatever they need to get the work done.

If your student is in need of a laptop or other device for remote learning, please contact your school principal as soon as possible. The District is making devices available to every student. Additionally, you can find out if your household is eligible for free high speed internet access through the Chicago Connected program by clicking here or reaching out to your school principal.


Make sure all work is completed.

The idea behind tips 1 – 3 is to help best prepare students for success by keeping them on track with what’s expected of them. However, sometimes things slip through the cracks or remains incomplete for other reasons. Hold students accountable by making sure there is a good reason something may be incomplete. And help them setup a plan that is time-bound and includes action steps to ensure it gets completed (e.g., email the teacher asking for clarifications on step 3 of the activity so that you can turn it in tomorrow by noon).


Remember virtual learning is new, expect there to be a learning curve.


Provide an environment conducive to learning.

This varies based on the student’s needs and household limitations. For example, smaller apartments with everyone at home can present a real challenge to keeping on task. If possible, be sure to setup individual work stations for each child, even if it’s within the same room having a dedicate place will help keep everyone in their routine.

If there is a lot of outside noise or if it is too quiet, utilizing background noise may be helpful. This could be playing music or ambient noise tracks. However, if this is too distracting and outside noise cannot be quieted, try investing in some noise canceling headphones or ear plugs.

If other outside distractions are disrupting school work, get creative. For example, if social media sites are the culprit, try out an app that temporarily blocks these sites. These help prevent mindless scrolling or check-ins to help stay focused and be more productive. Who knows, maybe you’ll find that you could benefit from one as well.


Learn to identify barriers.

This is something teachers have to learn early on in their careers–how to pinpoint exactly what’s happening or going wrong (not unlike a mechanic or doctor). Diagnostic teaching is one approach that can help here, the big idea is to identify precisely why your student might be struggling: Is it focus? Motivation? Too much or too little structure?


Help them check messages and communicate with school.

Check for messages daily from schools, teachers, and other students. Make sure to reply to any messages that require one. And, do not hesitate to reach out to school staff, they are there to help. Hence, our next tip…


Use school and district resources.

Check out the school’s website and Chicago Public School’s website as well. They have a plethora of resources for students and adults, such as CPS’s Remote Learning Guide. Additionally, if you are unfamiliar with it, the Office of Family and Community Engagement in Education has a Parent University that includes workshops for parents to navigate virtual learning.

GENERAL SUPPORT
CPS Command Center
Monday – Friday
8:00 am – 5:00pm
773-553-KIDS (5437)
familyservices@cps.edu

TECHNICAL SUPPORT
CPS Parent Tech Support Hotline
Monday – Friday
7:30am – 4:30pm
773-417-1060
Website

On a side note, if you are interested in providing support to your student’s school, we encourage you to reach out the “Friends of” organization or attend a Local School Council meeting to learn of ways you can get more involved.


Don’t teach – help them understand.

While you are not expected to be the teacher, it is your role to help your student understand the content that is being taught. This is now especially more important than ever.

Along with identifying barriers as discussed in Tip 6. If your student is struggling with understanding a topic or problem, exactly what do they not understand? When students say, ‘I don’t get it,’ the first step is to identify exactly what ‘it’ is–and this isn’t always easy. Most students don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why you (and an internet full of resources) are there to help. Once you get to the bottom of what ‘it’ is, if you are unsure of how to help be sure to reach out to the teacher that way they can assist as well.


Keep in mind that its’s about the child, not the work.

This can be difficult to keep in mind when there is so much pressure (on everyone) to complete the work. And further, this is obviously a parenting philosophy, which may not relate to your family.

But if you believe that assignments should serve the child rather than the child serve the assignments–or that this is at least partly true–then don’t over-emphasize ‘getting everything done’ over the well-being (not to mention creative genius and curiosity and intrinsic motivation) of your child.

Everyone has a different set of learning strategies and styles, strengths and needs. You may find some of these tips more useful, while others not so much. And, that’s okay. The point is to do what’s best for you and your family knowing that it might take a bit of trial and error. After all, to some extent, we are all learning as we go.



Do you have some of your own tips to add or resources to share? Please do so in the comments below. We would love to learn what’s working for our families. Additionally, if you need additional support feel free to reach out to Voice’s Resident Services staff at 773-769-2442.

Voice 2020: Who We Are

Voice is a small, but dynamic housing organization, controlled by tenants on the board, and supported by Uptown community reps and professional advisors.  It has a proud history, informed by experience in issue advocacy, community development and property management. In 2019, Voice of the People was in transition and strategizing about the future. 

To realize the organization’s vision of a vibrant mixed-income community in the next fifty years, Voice embraces some basic principles that will guide advocacy, programs, and services. 

  • While affordable housing alone may be enough for some residents to attain a higher quality of life and new level of self-sufficiency, most will still have challenges where they can benefit from support services.  To assure social sustainability for affordable housing, support services should be available to tenant-families and all residents.
  • While owners enjoy fleeting rewards for financing affordable housing, the long-term economic challenges to property management can be more daunting.  Voice, and all providers of affordable housing, must continuously seek greater capacities, enhance revenues, and realize cost efficiencies — so that they can viably continue.  This is what is required for economic sustainability of affordable housing.

So this is Who We Are in 2020

Voice is an affordable housing provider.  

Voice owns and manages property in Uptown, directly and with partners (14 buildings with 214 units). We intend to be the best “community partner” we can be by helping property management do its job well, and assuring long-term affordability in what is now a high-cost, reinvesting community. 

Voice is an organizer of residents and leader in affordable housing policy.  

The organization has a rich history of organizing residents around concerns regarding their apartments, buildings, and blocks.  Voice will deliver these “Legacy Services”, do it better, and begin to bring low income tenants and local owners together on areas of common concern.  The organization’s staff will also take on leadership roles with local and city-wide coalitions. Affordable housing is a human right — which remains the unifying theme of our work.

Voice is a new provider of support services to residents. 

Affordable housing is an essential need, but it is not the only need to address for tenants to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. Voice is beginning to connect people to opportunities based on their needs, interests, and goals — starting with Voice owned and partnership properties. Voice encourages volunteerism in support of the many great organizations and institutions of Uptown.

And, Voice wants to support owners of affordable housing long term.  

In order to maintain and welcome affordable and mixed-income residents into their properties, owners need assistance too.  Whether owners are for-profit or non-profit, Voice intends to advocate for sensible policies and provide program services so that owners can stay in the community without selling out to the highest bidder.