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Habitat on the Hill 2010: An Intern's Perspective

Monday, March 08, 2010, Katie Anderson, Community Relations/Advocacy Intern

I am the Community Relations Intern at Twin Cities Habitat, and my main project was helping organize and plan for the Habitat on the Hill – Minnesota. After a successful event in Minnesota, I was invited to go to the Habitat on the Hill – DC. Going to Washington, D.C. was a great experience for me both personally and professionally. I have not been to D.C. since I went to an eighth grade field trip. It was great to be back in our nation’s capitol to see how everything runs.

The first day in D.C. consisted of some very interesting speeches from various Habitat International people. I learned what Habitat is doing both internationally and nationally. In these speeches, I was inspired by how passionate the speakers were about Habitat’s mission. It was great to be in a room with 260 people from all over the country who are supporters of Habitat. I learned more about what Habitat stands for, and it made me proud of being a part of such a good cause. The second part of the day was attending classes to learn more about housing and the issues and solutions around it. Being a Housing Studies major, it was like being back at the university again. It was interesting to hear about the housing crisis and what Habitat is planning on doing to keep people in their homes. One of the ways to achieve this goal is called Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. NRI is something that I learned about in school, and I was so happy to see that Habitat is moving towards that direction. NRI means creating holistic neighborhoods and stable communities. It is about creating sustainable neighborhoods that benefit its residents. Some examples are: creating a neighborhood with a community center, a form of transportation like a light rail, walk able communities, mixed used developments with businesses and housing, and building these areas to last for years to come.

Another main theme was sustainability and building green. I am particularly interested in this area of housing. Habitat is starting to build their homes more green by following the guide of LEED certification and Earth Craft. I had not heard of Earth Craft before, but I learned that it is another guide on how to build energy-efficient homes. I am now inspired to become certified in both myself! These speeches and classes made me look forward to the way Habitat is going to continue to help with housing.

The second day was Habitat on the Hill at the Capitol. This day consisted of meeting with our Senators and Representatives from Minnesota. We were asking for their support of Habitat with public funding. Our main requests were to continue to fund our AmeriCorps program to fund more volunteers, support Twin Cities Habitat on the Safe Act so Habitat is able to keep our Mortgage Prevention Program, help Twin Cities Habitat with funds to build homes in Haiti, and other support services. Most of the Representatives we met were in support of Habitat. It was a great experience to go and talk to Representatives and have them listen to our passion for creating more decent affordable housing. The process amazed me how we were able to set up appointments and go and talk to Representatives in their offices. It reminded me that everyone is able to make a difference just by taking action. Talking to Representatives face-to-face is a powerful way to inform them about housing and how they can be partners with Habitat.

On the third and last day of our D.C. trip, Habitat was invited to attend a panel of Obama’s advisors at the White House. Obama’s advisors talked about how important it is to partner with each other. The government, the private sector, and nonprofits need to work together to create sustainable neighborhoods and communities. It was interesting to hear how the government supports our mission and how we can work together to improve community development.

Overall, the D.C. trip was a great experience. It taught me more about Habitat’s goals and the wave of the future in housing. Habitat is improving the world, and I am proud to say I lobbied for them. I believe having a place to call home is so important. Shelter is a basic need, along with food and water. Housing needs to be recognized as something that matters. I am lucky I got this opportunity in D.C. to learn more about what I can do, and I hope I can do something like this again. Thanks Habitat for inviting me!

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