Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My summer in D.C.

by Emily Brown, National Housing Conference 

During my first year in the Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Oregon, I ran across NHC’s website while working on a housing project for a class. I had entered graduate school after working in environmental justice and community organizing with the intention of pursuing a career in affordable housing, and was on the hunt for a housing-related summer internship. I was excited to learn about NHC’s policy intern position which would give me the opportunity to learn about housing policy and community development. I definitely picked the right internship. Over the past two months I have learned an unbelievable amount about affordable housing and housing policy. One of my main responsibilities is to work with the Restoring Neighborhoods Task Force, which highlights strategies that are helping communities recover from the foreclosure crisis and stabilize neighborhoods. I am learning about community development best practices from across the country and innovative ways that communities are combining affordable housing with revitalization efforts.

Along with supporting the Restoring Neighborhoods Task Force I am involved with the Connectivity Working Group, which promotes the provision of broadband internet to families living in affordable housing, as well as the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding. I have learned about the Clean Power Plan, ConnectHome and other programs. I follow and write about policy updates that impact funding for local or state housing programs and attend and report on relevant House and Senate hearings. I also attend a variety of educational events at HUD, the Center for American Progress, the Urban Institute and the U.S. Capitol.

While working for NHC I have enjoyed learning about housing and meeting other affordable housing advocates. I have also been able to begin my research on tiny houses for my master’s thesis, tour the Capitol and set a date to visit the White House. This has been a productive and exciting summer!

I have also found Washington, D.C., to be a fun city full of young people, free activities and delicious food. Public transit is convenient, and it is easy to travel to different neighborhoods or visit cities in Maryland and Virginia. One thing I especially love about living in D.C. (aside from the free zoo!) is how many parks are scattered throughout the city. There are beautiful places to run, watch live music, escape the heat or have a picnic. I don’t know exactly where I want to work after I finish school next June, but after spending the summer in this part of the country I know I would enjoy living here again. Overall, working as the summer policy intern for NHC has been an educational and exciting experience that I recommend to anyone pursuing a career in affordable housing or housing policy.

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