November 25, 2020
Uptown, Chicago – The RRF Foundation for Aging has awarded community-based nonprofit Voice of the People in Uptown a $50,000 grant in support of the organization’s new Resident Opportunity Services Program that serves the 14 Voice owned and affiliated buildings.
The funding is part of the RRF Foundation for Aging’s priority to support organizations that make housing more affordable and provide coordinated services that enable older people to live safely in community settings and improve the quality of life for older people.
Voice has been providing and advocating for affordable housing in the Uptown and Greater Chicago community for over 50 years. As part of the organization’s strategic plan for the next 50 years, in FY2019 Voice launched its new program Resident Opportunity Services. The program provides and connects Voice’s 214 households with social, cultural, recreational, and economic opportunities to improve residents’ housing stability and overall quality of life.
The grant will increase the program’s capacity allowing for staff to provide senior specific services to the over 40% of Voice households that include at least one household member who is a senior, has a reported disability or health risk. This is one of ten resident identified priority areas for the expansion of Resident Opportunity Services, the need for which became vital after the tragic passing of a long-time Voice resident in the Fall of 2019.
Voice households have “Very Low-Income” (with incomes of 50% or below the Area Median Income); and, by estimates 90% live on a fixed-income or low wages (“Extremely Low-Income” <30%AMI). Additionally, Voice residents are predominately people of color representing a diverse range of ethnicities. Research shows that people with lower-incomes are more likely to be “stuck in place” due to limited financial research, which disproportionately impacts older adults of color.
While “aging in place” is found to have a positive impact on older adults’ well-being and often preferred, when someone is “stuck in place” because they lack necessary homecare services or resources to change their living situation this can negatively impact their health outcomes. Voice’s Senior Support Services will assist in ensuring older residents are connected with the necessary resources to enable them to live safely in the community and improve their overall quality of life.
Planned strategies include coaching, wellbeing assessments, assistance navigating healthcare and insurance systems, financial and legal planning, making necessary home modifications, accessing in-home support services, food and utility assistance, increasing peer support and intergenerational social opportunities. Voice’s Resident Services Coordinator, Colleen Heitlage, explains, “These activities will allow for program staff to develop deep working relationships with older residents to provide ongoing support that is especially important as people age and their needs change.”