NLIHC Field Team: What We Do

The NLIHC Field Team interacts with members of the Coalition and the general public (collectively known as “the field”). Broadly speaking, the Field Team works with the field to weigh in on housing policy issues. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Field Team collaborates extensively with both the Policy and Communications Teams at NLIHC.

As a coalition that represents the housing interests of the lowest income Americans, NLIHC’s greatest strength is our network. We work with people across the country to leverage our collective power as citizens. The more people who are involved in advocating, the greater influence we have in shaping housing policy to benefit the lowest income Americans.

One of the most important ways we engage people in housing advocacy work is through membership. The Field Team communicates directly with all of our members on a regular basis. When it’s time to mobilize the field, our members are some of the most active and well-informed housing advocates in the country.

Our members represent a diverse coalition of individuals and organizations, which ensures that all stakeholders are represented in our advocacy. Low income renters comprise a significant portion of our individual membership. Our organizational members include: direct service organizations, tenant groups, advocacy organizations, low income housing developers, government agencies, and small businesses. Chief among our members are our State Partners, who serve as the main point of contact for advocacy in their given states.

Through their membership dues, our members are also an essential part of how we maintain a high degree of financial independence. It is this independence that has allowed us to maintain an unwavering focus on the housing needs of the lowest income Americans for 40 years. Because of our members’ central importance to this mission, the Field Team takes great care to meet our members’ needs.

Ultimately, the Field Team has a broad range of responsibilities, from taking care of membership logistics to communicating with and mobilizing our field on critical housing issues. To learn more about the Field Team, you can contact the Housing Advocacy Organizer for your state.

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: Marcus Mello

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. 

Hello everyone, my name is Marcus Mello and I am currently one of two outreach interns at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. I began my internship at the end of May and I will be leaving at the beginning of August. So far, this internship has exposed me to a wide variety of issues facing the world of affordable housing and has also given me a glimpse of what it is like to being in the real world working a 9-5 job. As an outreach intern, I have gained considerable knowledge about the significant role that maintaining and building a membership base plays in the success of a policy advocacy organization.

I was originally interested in interning for NLIHC because of both my personal background and desire to learn more about an issue that I have studied in my economics courses. Having grown up in a Section 8 household, I really wanted to learn more about low income housing programs and how the environment is shaped by policy advocacy organizations. Though I plan to pursue architecture, policy is something that I have found intriguing since my freshman of year of college and I wanted an internship that would connect my interests in both the built environment and policy.

As an intern, it can be challenging juggling multiple tasks, such as making membership renewal calls, handling the direct assistance line, and organizing membership spreadsheets, at once. However, the staff at NLIHC have been nothing less than friendly and supportive. My fellow outreach intern, Becca, and I were even able to tag along with the research team to a hearing on Capitol Hill, which was awesome to see. My favorite project so far has been categorizing NLIHC’s list of member agencies. Becca and I are in the process of creating a membership dashboard for the NLIHC board of directors, which will contain charts and graphs pertaining to NLIHC’s membership demographics.

Outside the office, I have also been thoroughly enjoying myself. Coming from a suburb outside Boston, it also has been quite an experience trekking around the nation’s capital, which I had only visited in short trips before. Future intern alert: this is the city to be in. One of my favorite adventures was going on a bike tour of the monuments and memorials with a few of the other interns here on a previous Saturday. We also frequently eat lunch together in Lafayette Park, wave at Secret Service officers, and grab fro-yo (Yogen Früz is awesome) or Rōti (future interns: you have to try Rōti). As far as the internship goes, future interns should expect to be able to work independently and take notes. There are staff meetings every week, so it is important to keep track of what you learn for future reference. Lastly, bring short-sleeved and long-sleeved clothing – the weather here is unpredictable.

Anyways, gotta get back to work. Email me at outreachintern2@nlihc.org if you have any questions or comments or just want to say hi!

New Series: Advocates in the Spotlight

Many people, from staff and board members to conference attendees and members, work with the Coalition to help us achieve our mission. Today’s post is the first in an ongoing series spotlighting different types of advocates on our blog, from people in the field to those behind-the-scenes working in our office every day. 

To kick off this new  series, we turned to a long-time staff member who recently took on a new role at the Coalition.

Name: La’Teashia Sykes

Relation: NLIHC State Coalition Project Director

As the new State Coalition Project Director, how would you describe the project in your own words?
The project is essential to the work we do here at NLIHC. It allows us to work closely with premier state-wide organizations that are dedicated to making sure those with the greatest need have affordable and decent homes. Our state coalition partners inform our work with knowledge of what’s happening on the ground and we provide support for them to do their work at the state and federal levels. When I think about how NLIHC and our partners work together, it really is a true partnership!

You have been with NLIHC for 4 1/2 years now, starting as a Policy Intern and then moving to work on the Outreach Team. What are you most excited for with your new position?
As a policy intern, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in specific policies and pieces of legislation we work on. As an Outreach Associate, I primarily worked to engage our members in our work and mobilize our field base. As the Director of the State Coalition Project I get to combine my previous experiences with NLIHC into one, hone these skills and develop new ones.  Also, our partners have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I’m excited to learn from these folks and work with them toward our mission.

Are there any specific goals you might have for state partners or for the project as a whole?
My constant goal is to discover unique opportunities to support the work of partners with the resources we have. I also want to collaborate with our networks in SD, TN, MS, NV, MT, WV, MD, OK, ID, IA – all states in which we do not have a partner – to cultivate statewide organizations for partnership. I invite any advocates in those states to reach out to me with suggestions of housing advocacy organizations that share the same mission as NLIHC!

My favorite NLIHC resource isOut of Reach. I like how this annual report breaks down housing information by state and by county. It’s a great tool to place in the hands of local advocates, and our state partners are the ones who both use the resource to its full potential and get the word out so others can too.

I am a housing advocate because… housing is essential to life and one’s ability to succeed in this life. Something so important should be financially attainable, healthy, and safe for everyone, especially those with the lowest incomes.

To learn more about NLIHC’s State Coalition project, visit www.nlihc.org/whatwedo/outreach/state.