Voice of the People in Uptown has been working to create the Voice Owners Network (VON) to serve as a hub of owner-support services where Voice plays a liaison role between subsidy, economic, and technical assistance resources and the owners striving to maintain affordable housing. Voice understands that if there is going to be economic and racial diversity long-term in a community like Uptown, there needs to be both social sustainability and economic sustainability of affordable housing. This means that residents with low-income can access services that assure stability and help them maintain a quality of life while owners engage in problem solving via networking, and pursue ways to increase revenues, manage expenses, access technical assistance in property asset management, and facilitate professional development.
The VON program emphasizes helping owners increase revenues, decrease costs, and address public policy, subsidy/compliance and technical assistance needs that contribute to the economic viability and sustainability of affordable housing. In 2022, Voice was designated as a Chicago Technical Assistance Center and provides networking and owner services to private and non-profit owners of affordable and mixed-income housing.
After two years of strategic planning, in January 2023, Voice officially formed the “Dovie Thurman Affordable Housing Trust” as the first project of the Voice Owner’s Network program, which includes three Voice-owned properties to seed the initiative. It is structured to include other affordable housing sponsors and developments with lasting affordability guarantees and benefits of membership including property tax relief and preferred access to resources, services and subsidies. Learn more here. Although Voice cannot address all areas of need at this stage of our program development, Voice has identified property taxation and policy initiatives as key concerns for affordable housing owners. Read more about four areas of our work in tax reform and advocacy. Workshops in tax appeals are beginning in FY23-24.
In addition, Voice continues to ramp up engagement in initiatives with the Chicago Rehab Network, the Preservation Compact, and advocacy partners Northside Action for Justice and ONE Northside, as well as local housing interests to provide balanced input into proposed Affordable Rental Ordinance (ARO) developments and rent-subsidy programs like the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund (CLIHTF). Voice will continue to sponsor property management training and participation in real estate tax appeal workshops. Voice is reconnecting with block clubs, as well as building and owner associations in Uptown, including the “International Homes” Association (which Voice was the original developer and housing sponsor). Ultimately, Voice seeks to make history by establishing a comprehensive housing resource center – one that can support both resident and owner assistance services.