Dear Voice Residents
My name is Michael Rohrbeck, the new Executive Director of Voice of the People in Uptown, a community development corporation that symbolizes and reminds us of a proud history of enabling development and improvements that primarily benefit lower income and working class people – people like you who live in a building owned by Voice or its partners.
Voice has 226 units in 16 buildings. But buildings and apartments, bricks and mortar, do not convey who we are. The residents of our leased homes are who we are. Community and city-wide allies, donors, and supporters that want a vibrant, mixed-income Uptown, also are who we are. We will be asking for your images and words in the coming weeks so that we can better represent the Voice of the People in Uptown. It is my hope that Voice Residents will also begin to engage with organizations across our community and increase the capacity of those groups to improve the quality of life in Uptown.
It’s our 50th year! We will be focused during this time on stabilizing the organization and strategic planning for the next 50 years. We anticipate having programs that will represent the next generation of community development in Chicago. We expect to demonstrate how we can, with cost-efficiency and market effectiveness, expand housing, service and economic opportunities.
Soon I will be asking board members and outside supporters of Voice to donate $50.00, or $50.00 a month, to back our efforts. Residents could do the same or donate any lesser amount — perhaps $1.00 for every year of affordable housing. Your donations, and your volunteer time, will help us show the community, and the corporate and foundation world, that we are all in for a better future.
Uptown needs a new Voice for a great, mixed-income community.
Almost 40 years ago, I came to Chicago as a volunteer, working in the W. Garfield Park and Austin communities, first as a volunteer for a church-based housing organization, later as a staffer supporting tenant services and housing cooperative organizing; overseeing acquisition, development and property management of affordable housing; and, coordinating efforts intended to assist owners who wanted to stay and responsibly reinvest in their homes.
I was an Executive Director, a President of the Chicago Rehab Network, an At-Home Dad of three kids, a Block Club President; a co-founder with others of a Cooperative Preschool, a university fellow assisting non-profit organizations, and a manager in a private sector consulting and law firm.
I do not have a magic wand, nor do I claim to be an expert at any one thing. But I am committed with our board to helping Voice to:
demonstrate and model how good property management can happen;
enable resident access to the best services and economic opportunities our great community has to offer; and,
support other owners and developers of mixed-income and affordable housing – so that they may prosper, while reserving a portion of Uptown’s housing for people of modest means.