Matt Ericson (MPP '16) offers this field report from Washington, DC. Ericson is working with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
Review more internship field reports from Ford School students serving organizations around the world.
Just what is the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)?
Formed in 1933, with more than 22,500 agency and individual members, it’s the oldest and largest organization in the United States serving the agencies and officials that produce and operate affordable housing and work in the area of community development. In all, NAHRO's members provide affordable housing for more than 7.9 million low-income people, and bring in more than $1.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant and HOME funding.
How does NAHRO support that work?
Through its education and advocacy programs, NAHRO works to help members maximize their capacity to provide affordable dwellings to the nation’s low- and moderate-income families. Staff members here have a sincere passion for informing member organizations about current legislative matters.
So it’s a lobbying organization?
No, NAHRO is a 501(c)3. One of NAHRO’s main objectives is to create an operating environment that gives NAHRO members access to the tools and resources they need to serve their communities. To that end, NAHRO works to inform policymakers in Washington about the potential impacts of various policy proposals, as well as keeping its membership informed about policy making decisions.
What are you doing to help?
I’m working on a variety of projects at NAHRO, ranging from publishing bi-weekly articles on the organization's website and in its newsletter (which reaches more than 22,000 members) to analyzing policies, conducting research, and attending hearings on the Hill.
Most notably, though, I’m assisting in the development of a new partnership between NAHRO and Parents as Teachers (PAT), a worldwide leader in the delivery of evidence-based home-visiting and parent engagement tools. PAT’s work has been demonstrated to improve school readiness, literacy, health, and the development of young children. Advancing these practices in public housing units will greatly increase the likelihood of academic success for children living in these low-income communities. I am heavily involved in the facilitation and strategy for this effort, as I drafted the memorandum of understanding for the partnership and sat down with the CEO of NAHRO and PAT last week to formalize a plan.
I love it here so far! A lot of my friends from undergrad are living in DC, so there are plenty of people to spend time with and a lot of fun things to do in the area.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done since you got there?
My boss was actually able to set up a tour of the White House for me! I had only been inside once before to go bowling, but never had a chance to explore. Also, I found a roller hockey league that plays twice a week in front of the White House. I’ve been playing in that as much as I can.
Why housing? What drew you to the policy area?
I have a lot of experience working with low-income citizens in Detroit and housing is a big issue there right now. This internship promised flexibility in the projects that I work on and exposure to the actual policymaking process. I could not be happier with my decision to accept the internship at NAHRO! My coworkers are all excellent people to work with.
I would actually like to continue my education and pursue a career in academia. As of now, I believe that would be my best avenue to effect change in low-income communities. I have a few good ideas that could go a long way in a PhD program – and NAHRO has been very supportive of helping me in whatever way they can with my future goals!
Think you’ll head back to DC after graduation?
Maybe someday! DC really is a great place. Stay tuned : )