In the previous year, the notion of Voice being a hub of owner support services, a place where the organization could play a liaison role between subsidy and economic resources and the owners struggling to maintain affordable housing, was just that — a concept without funding or support. But what the organization knows quite clearly is 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 — with residents accessing services that assure stability and help them maintain a quality of life — and financial sustainability, where owners can efficiently manage their expenses, while they increase their revenues, as well as their technical and property management capabilities.
In 2021, the organization officially announced the strategic planning kick-off for the establishment of a Diversity Land Trust. The process would be powered by housing leaders recognized citywide with diverse expertise commissioned to advise Voice’s community board — in community development, development financing, and property management. They are people who believe the time has come to lock in lasting affordability for multi-unit rental buildings with tax and other benefits that help to assure viability for generations. The planning process, along with related public policy initiatives and alliance building around racial equity and wealth building initiatives, could last many months. During the course of Fy 2021-22, Voice will determine if establishing a land trust could be feasible, and could be structured to include other affordable housing sponsors as well. Learn More Here.
With the Voice Owners Network (VON) program, the organization will also network and host collaborative community dialogues around housing and economic diversity issues as well as additional shared concerns of current and prospective affordable housing owners (e.g. housing subsidy recipients, tax appeal assistance/advocacy, research with university partners for troubled buildings and early warnings). Longer term, the organization will administer programs that enhance the capacity and viability for owners to sustainably provide affordable housing in low-income and mixed-income properties by decreasing their costs, increasing incomes, and enhancing their property management capabilities.
Concurrent with this, the organization will be ramping up engagement in initiatives with the Chicago Rehab Network, advocacy partners Northside Action for Justice and ONE Northside, and local housing interests to provide balanced input into proposed Affordable Rental Ordinance (ARO) developments, or landlord-friendly rent-subsidy programs like the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund (CLIHTF). Voice will seek to sponsor property management training and participation in real estate tax appeal workshops. The organization hopes to reconnect with block clubs, in addition to building and owner associations in Uptown, including the “International Homes” Association (which Voice was the original developer and housing sponsor). And of course, it will seek funding to power this fledgling effort at establishing a comprehensive housing resource center – one that can support both resident and owner assistance services.