The Voice Owners Network Program
A New Resource for Affordable Housing Owners
Recent decades have brought many challenges and improvements to the community of Uptown. As reinvestment has become more attractive and costs for maintaining housing increased, so has the difficulty of mitigating the negative effects of displacement and gentrification, especially for those most vulnerable, whose “affordable” housing may be at risk over time.
The long-term strategy of Voice of the People to achieve a sustainably diverse community is to pursue two tracks of service support that assure residential and ownership stability:
Connecting residents to services directly, and via collaborating partners, including economic, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities, that help people to address their lifeline needs as well as to achieve personal and family goals of self-improvement. We do this through our Resident Opportunity Services (ROS); programming for seniors, youth and families; and community outreach/ engagement activities.
Connecting owners to services that help them viably maintain affordable and mixed-income housing, averting temptation to sell properties at market prices– which fuels displacement and gentrification that erodes Uptown’s racial and economic diversity. We intend to make history with the Voice Owner’s Network (VON) Program, a relatively new effort that is structured to grow and begin to have an impact beginning in Uptown .
VON owner assistance and networking services has begun, and will over time help property owners, managers, and service providers increase their income and decrease expenses (including property taxes). The network will assist owners in accessing resources and credit they need. Additionally, it allows owners to collectively address shared concerns in property management, resident services, compliance and community safety – all which are vital to socially and economically sustaining affordable housing into the future.
Under the umbrella of the Voice Owner’s Network, the organization has explored options of innovative new strategies to further assist owners in achieving lasting affordability, including the establishment of a “Diversity Land Trust”, now incorporated as the “Dovie Thurman Affordable Housing Trust”. This new entity, named after a legendary Voice “founding mother” and community activist, brings owners and residents together, making commitments to permanent affordability, in exchange for better access to financial, funding, tax and debt relief, as well as technical assistance that preserves housing long term and makes possible sustainable diversity in Chicago communities.
If you are interested in supporting such an effort, visit vophousing.com/donate to contribute to the cause. If you’d like to register and specify your interests in owner services, register online to learn more or call 773.769.2442 for a short informational interview.