Reflections From A Blogger

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For the past nine months, I have had the pleasure of being the Policy and Outreach Intern here at MANNA. In this position, one of my key duties was serving as the primary blogger for MANNA’s Housing Advocacy Team. I came to MANNA in August 2015, a few days before the start of my first semester of graduate school. Now that my first year of grad school is over, my time with MANNA has come to an end as well.

I have been passionate about affordable housing for some time now. In undergrad, I studied affordable housing and conducted research on people’s perceptions of affordable housing. I also had the opportunity to intern for an organization that financially supports the development of affordable housing, and worked for a separate organization that provided games and activities as a part of a night time summer program that took place in public housing communities. Through these experiences, I learned that every form of housing on the continuum is important, but I was especially attracted to the concept of affordable homeownership.

When I interviewed with MANNA, I learned about their history and how they have been around since 1982. I was impressed by the fact that they have their own construction team, which has developed about 1200 units. I was captivated by MANNA’s impact, and their ability to empower families and revitalize entire neighborhoods through homeownership. I was also drawn to MANNA because in addition to developing housing, they give District residents the tools they need to purchase and maintain their homes by providing homebuyers education and counseling.  And MANNA trains residents how to become community leaders and advocates for housing programs.

I was thrilled when MANNA offered me this internship position, and I have looked forward to coming into the office every morning since my first day. Not only is MANNA true to their mission, but their staff is friendly and genuine. Many of MANNA’s past home buyers visit the office, become involved in the Housing Advocacy Team, or find other ways to remain connected to the organization. I view this as evidence that people value the services that they received from MANNA, and they believe in the organization’s work. Also, MANNA has a strong familial dynamic, which I believe is what makes folks want to stick around.

The biggest take-away that I have as I leave MANNA is that anyone who is determined to own a home can do so, when they are given support and access to the right tools. Also, being here at MANNA has strengthened my belief that homeownership can be used as a tool to close the racial wealth gap.

I am truly grateful for this experience and how it helped me grow personally. I am appreciative to MANNA for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to meet great people – two of which passed earlier this year, yet I am still inspired by the interactions that I had with them. Moreover, I am thankful to you, the reader, for checking out our page, and reading what I had to say over these past several months. Thank you.

 

*Victoria Palacio*

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