Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Major Changes Afoot As POAH Acquires 11 Voice of the People Buildings in Uptown

Longtime Uptown affordable housing provider VoP (Voice of the People in Uptown) has largely cashed out of the Uptown market, selling multiple buildings to Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a Boston-based "non-profit apartment investor," for $2.4 million plus $33.6 million in debt relief.

Last year, VoP also sold its long-time holding at 4431 N. Racine to a private developer for $950,000 after taking out a $1.6 million mortgage just three years prior.  The developer has since converted the property to market rate housing.

Ald. Cappleman is pleased with the latest sale, telling RE Journal "we are excited that POAH is preserving long-term affordability and bringing decades of experience to the Uptown community."

While VoP's website terms the sale a "Sponsored Development with Partners," and the press release says VoP "will remain an investor in the properties," it is unclear what that means in real terms.  The REJournal article suggests VoP will continue to provide "resident and community engagement services" for the buildings.

VoP will continue to own and manage three of its buildings (22 units) at 4861 N Kenmore, 4927 N Kenmore and 4409 N Racine. 

The eleven buildings, totaling 192 units, that are being sold to POAH are:
  • 4416-26 N Clifton (35 units)
  • 4431-41 N Clifton (18 units)
  • 4416-22 N Magnolia (24 units)
  • 4130 N Kenmore (14 units)
  • 4426 N Magnolia (6 units)
  • 912 W Montrose (6 units)
  • 847-49 W Sunnyside (12 units)
  • 852-54 W Sunnyside/4509-11 N Hazel (12 units)
  • 927 W Wilson (41 units)
  • 900-02 W Windsor/4534-40 N Hazel (18 units)
  • 4813 N Winthrop (6 units)
For its part, POAH adds these buildings to a portfolio of Chicago acquisitions, including buildings in Austin, Bridgeport, Grand Boulevard and Woodlawn, as well as two suburbs, Harvey and Elgin.  The article references that POAH has remained viable despite the pandemic, collecting greater than 90% of rents due.

Long-time residents may recall that VoP received Wilson Yard TIF funding of $5.9 million in 2011 for preservation of five of its buildings, and was designated as a TIF project manager for several other buildings in 2006.


  1. The backstory here is likely "interesting".

    VOP has been a carbuncle in the armpit of Uptown since 1968.

    If they only have 22 remaining units that's about enough work for one person to handle.

    It's not enough to legitimately have a full time office and maintenance staff.

    I can't say I'll miss them. I hope the new ownership are better neighbors and better managers than VOP was.

    52 years and now circling the drain.

    How sweet it is.

  2. For clarification...

    Chicago Community Development Corporation (CCDC) has been Voice's general partner in these four developments (11 buildings) since 2007. It was CCDC's choice to outsource property management to Leasing and Management (L&M), which Voice has limited authority over as a co-owner.

    Tony Fusco, head of CCDC, is retiring and has sold CCDC's portfolio, including the Voice developments. Over the past year, Voice has been in extensive negotiations with POAH to finalize the terms of their new partnership. Voice's role as a co-owner remains the same.

    POAH does in house management, so they will be taking over property management from L&M. Voice has recently begun a new resident services program and will be providing support services to these 11 buildings along with the three others Voice owns and manages directly.

    Here is an official announcement from Voice's Newsletter --

  3. Voice of the People is not cashing out by selling properties to POAH or anyone else, but partnering long term with POAH in housing that will be preserved as affordable, and supported with resident services. We as a non-profit group are celebrating a 50+ year history and gearing up for the next fifty years -- where both residents and owners of affordable housing get the support they need to live well and prosper. We look forward to collaborating with all businesses, community organizations and interests in having a racially and economically diverse community for the next fifty years.

    Michael Rohrbeck, Executive Director
    Voice of the People in Uptown, Inc.