Interning at NLIHC

Interning at NLIHC is a rewarding experience for students and recent graduates. NLIHC brings on policy, research, field, communications, and operations interns throughout the year. One perk of interning at NLIHC is the opportunity to attend events on the Hill. This Wednesday, our summer interns attended a Congressional Homelessness Caucus Briefing on Violence Against the Homeless, where they snagged a picture with Special Guest Susan Sarandon.

Left to right: Research Intern Shaina Castonguay; Policy Intern Francine Glaser; Susan Sarandon; Operations Intern Aliza Cohen; Field Intern Pilar Alatorre.

Left to right: Research Intern Shaina Castonguay; Policy Intern Francine Glaser; Susan Sarandon; Operations Intern Aliza Cohen; Field Intern Pilar Alatorre.

Stay tuned for blog posts from our current interns and more about the internship opportunities at NLIHC!

Meet Our Interns: Christina Payamps-Smith

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Spring intern Christina Payamps-Smith, a master’s degree student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, shares her experiences as an intern with us today.

For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in social justice issues. After graduating from college, like most recent graduates, I contemplated what to do next that involved my interests. After some searching, I quickly found an AmeriCorps position with an affordable housing developer. Since this time, my interest in social justice was pointed to affordable housing.

Using this experience as a jump start, I was eager to learn more about affordable housing and the environment in which housing organizations exist. I started working on my masters in public administration to gain additional knowledge. After several family moves, I found myself living in the D.C. metro area and looking for opportunities to supplement my coursework.  In my search I came across the internship openings at NLIHC and thought, after writing multiple class papers using NLIHC’s publications as resources, that this opportunity would be a perfect fit.

The experience has already proved to be exciting just a few weeks into my internship. I have had the opportunity to attend coalition meetings, meet with Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, attend Congressional committee hearings and interact with people who are dedicated to affordable housing. My time here has educated me on the legislative process and all the people and issues that are involved. Many of the projects that I have worked on so far challenge me to develop my skills and learn new things.

For anyone considering an internship with NLIHC, I would say it is a worthwhile experience. This internship offers an opportunity to build professional skill sets and to truly gain knowledge in all areas of affordable housing.

Meet Our Interns: Shira Steinberg

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our fall interns have been with us for a few weeks and are excited to share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’ll begin accepting intern applicants this Friday.

Finding an internship during the school year is a challenge. An internship has to accommodate the life of a student— multiple exams and essays stacked on one day, many a sleepless night, the occasional mandatory meeting—as well as have the authenticity of a “real world” job. As if that weren’t demanding enough, an internship should relate to what one would like to do with one’s life. Thus, despite receiving many internship offers, from working as a beekeeper to tutoring elementary schoolers, none of these prospective internships really resonated with me as a Government and Politics major. In addition, an internship should be something that you can not only learn from, but something that you can be passionate about. Thus, the summer before school started, the daunting challenge of finding an internship that possessed all these qualities loomed large.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s internship program. Suddenly, finding the perfect internship no longer seemed impossible. As one of the Outreach Interns I am involved daily in the inner workings of NLIHC, which has truly allowed me to understand more about public policy in the nation and how constituents work to advocate programs to the federal government. And, yes, this is much more applicable to my major in Government and Politics than raising bees would have been.

This internship has taught me the importance and role that housing plays in today’s society. Every day someone is unable to pay rent because housing in this country is unaffordable. Through my time at NLIHC I have learned that this problem affects everyone in this country, rich and poor. The people at NLIHC have decided that this issue needs to be addressed, no matter how long it takes to change it for the better. Having an opportunity to work among some of the most dedicated and passionate people, who work to make this nation a better place, has been inspirational.

Not many people get the opportunity to intern somewhere like this; I am lucky I have had this chance. My advice? Don’t let an opportunity like this slip by. There are only so few chances to work somewhere that will understand your needs while fostering a passion for helping others through civic means.

Meet Our Interns: Riley Keenan

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our summer interns have been sharing their experiences at the Coalition with you over the last few weeks. This is the last of their posts before our fall interns begin. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? Learn more here! We’re still accepting applications for both communications and research interns.

I began my research internship with the National Low Income Housing Coalition with a somewhat

riley marcus becca chelsea

Riley Keenan with fellow summer interns Marcus Mello, Becca Larew and Chelsea Dalziel

daunting task: calculating the number of housing units available to low income households in each county in each state in the United States. Although not all of my responsibilities were this complex, I think this example illustrates an important point about the research internship at NLIHC. The research department is the engine room of a data-driven advocacy machine, and as a result, there are times when research interns will feel like they are drowning in numbers. One of the most valuable aspects of the internship, however, is the opportunity to discover the many ways in which those numbers can directly impact the success of NLIHC’s advocacy mission.

Rights issues for low income individuals have been important to me since my first foray into the professional world in 2010. That summer, I interned with Reston Interfaith, an outstanding organization that runs a homeless shelter, food bank and subsidized childcare center in my hometown of Reston, VA. This experience encouraged me to get more involved with low income rights issues when I returned to school at the University of Virginia in the fall. I began volunteering with the Legal Aid Justice Center, a clinic that provides subsidized legal services to low income individuals in the Charlottesville area. When it finally came time to look for work after graduation, these experiences led me to consider opportunities in low income rights advocacy, and this position at NLIHC stood out to me as an excellent fit.

My degree from UVA is in American Studies and History, so my coworkers are often surprised to learn that data analysis is a type of work that I very much enjoy. My quantitative skills came in handy this summer with a variety of projects, including the Congressional District Housing Profiles and data analyses for our state-level partner organizations. I also found that the writing skills I developed in college were useful in my internship, as I was tasked with drafting articles on new housing research for our membership newsletter, Memo to Members. On the other hand, many of the tasks I encountered at NLIHC were new and challenged me to grow as a professional. For example, as part of a research project on state-funded rental assistance programs, I was asked to reach out via email and phone to government officials and to director-level staff at our state partner organizations. This helped me to expand my professional communication and interpersonal skills.

I chose to intern with the National Low Income Housing Coalition this summer for a simple reason: affordable housing issues affect everybody. If you are committed to working for change, are looking to gain experience with a mission-driven team and don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty in Excel, then I highly recommend this internship experience to you.

Meet Our Interns: Becca Larew

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Over the next several weeks, each of our summer interns will share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? Learn more here!

Like many soon-to-be graduates, the months before my college graduation were filled with trying to figure out what to do next.  Most of my classmates decided to go straight to graduate school, but I wanted to learn more about life outside of the university setting first.  As part of my social work degree, I completed a practicum with United Action for Youth in Iowa City, an agency that works with pregnant or parenting teens and homeless youth. During my time there, I gained an insider’s perspective on different social programs, especially Section 8 housing, where many of our youth and their families lived. By working with them, I learned about the stigma attached to using housing vouchers in Iowa City and the complications renters faced because of landlords refusing to accept their vouchers.

When researching internship opportunities, I was looking for ways to gain experience in macro-level social work and advocacy. I also wanted the opportunity to move away from Iowa and go outside my comfort zone. When I came across NLIHC’s internship description on, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to learn about advocating for socially just policies and to organize people around housing issues. After talking with Outreach Associate Mary Kolar about the outreach position and how involved interns are in the everyday activities of NLIHC, I was excited for my big move and to start working.

As one of two outreach interns, I was able to learn about NLIHC’s membership and why members are so important. Joining NLIHC is like becoming a member in an active community that works together to make life better for people struggling with different housing issues. Members have the opportunity to stay informed and take action on different policies that affect either themselves personally or someone they know. While interning I was able to talk to members either on the phone or when attending conferences and learned how becoming a member of NLIHC impacted them. Also I was able to do several other projects while interning including analyzing membership demographics, directly assisting people with housing problems and verifying member’s congressional districts.

As my internship with NLIHC comes to a close, I am again faced with answering the question, “what’s next?” After a brief trip back to Iowa to see friends and family and a backpacking trip through Central America, I will be returning to the East Coast to work as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Crittenton Services of Greater Washington. I know I will use my experience and newly acquired skill set that I gained from NLIHC in all my future endeavors. My advice to prospective interns would be to apply for any internship NLIHC offers because you will gain a wealth of knowledge of different housing issues and be welcomed and appreciated by the staff.