The Inner Voice was founded by Reverend Robert Johnson in 1984 as a drop-in center and soup kitchen for Chicago's homeless. As he saw the same faces day after day, Reverend Johnson soon realized that he needed to shift the focus of his efforts toward teaching self sufficiency. In 1991 he reorganized to meet two primary goals: first, to increase the level of participation of disadvantaged groups in the economic, educational and cultural institutions in their communities, and second, to develop strategies for building self-sufficiency, initiative and leadership among its participants.
Today, Inner Voice consists of five major programs: the Learning Center, located at 1600 West Lake Street; the Second Stage Housing Program, a long term residential program for homeless men; the Veteran's Housing Program, a long term residential program for homeless veterans; the Chicago Housing Authority/Inner Voice House Watch program, which provides transitional housing and employment for the homeless; and the Representative Payee program, a program designed to help SSI recipients make the best use of their income to become self-sufficient. Currently serving over 1400 homeless individuals annually, Inner Voice provides a beacon of hope for those wishing to achieve self-sufficiency.
The Learning Center serves as the corporate headquarters and serves as the central intake facility for clients requesting agency services. All educational programs are housed at the Learning Center. Inner Voice presently offers computer classes combined with a general office skills class, literacy and GED courses, job readiness courses and a weekly money management seminar. Recognizing the complex issues associated with homelessness, Inner Voice also provides comprehensive support services, including housing assistance, employment referrals and placements, resume assistance, medical referrals, HIV testing, counseling, life-skills training, free clothes, and mail service.