Vanessa Amaya (she/her) hails from San Francisco State University, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA).
Her passion for affordable housing development was sparked by both working at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and living as a resident at an affordable housing site under Community Housing Partnership. She was an elected representative in Student Government at San Francisco State University where she also held leadership and coordinating roles with a number of campus organizations.
She’s most excited about getting comfortable working with numbers and making decisions for important work.
Upon conclusion of her internship, she looks forward to executing all the processes of a project manager, and of course — landing a job in the affordable housing development industry!
Ann Chen (she/they) hails from San Francisco State University, and is fulfilling their 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at The Unity Council.
Raised in a middle-class household with parents driven by financial success, they watched as their surroundings became more and more socially and racially uniform. In their words:
“As the air I breathed got cleaner, as the schools I attended got better, and as the homes I lived in got bigger; my neighbors all became Whiter. I do not wish to live in a world that distributes opportunity according to skin color or any other arbitrary identity. Housing has a huge impact on one’s opportunities.”
They’re most excited about learning how the affordable housing industry works to meet the most central and urgent needs of our society right now — while interacting with both public and private institutions. As a queer person of color growing up in America, they have often questioned how identity interacts with access to housing:
“How many people choose to live in abusive homes, low-quality homes, or homes with 2-hour commutes to work because there are no affordable safe options available to them? How many people are just abandoned to the streets to suffer when even the unsafe, unhealthy, and unreasonable options are inaccessible?”
They are most excited and challenged by riding the line between being formal enough to be respectful while still being able to build honest connections with people. They’re very excited to do a site visit and see how a potential project becomes a home for someone.
Upon conclusion of their internship, Ann looks forward to either a job in affordable housing or enough knowledge/experience in the affordable housing field to confidently pursue their next job in this career path.
Alyssa Fua (she/her) hails from UC Berkeley, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA).
Being a college student in the Bay Area, the issue of affordability for housing was always on her mind. Having to find a place to stay while at school and seeing skyrocketing rents opened her eyes to the problems of affordability in the Bay Area. As she prepares to graduate, she wants to change the increasing problem of affordability in the Bay Area:
“During this time where racial inequities are being showcased all across the U.S., I wanted to take actions that produce meaningful results. This internship seemed not only to allow me to take action now but to prepare me to be a lifelong advocate for changes that we need to have. By ensuring that we learn the necessary skills needed to pursue a career in this field, BAHIP makes me feel like I really can be an agent of change.”
Through her yearly work in student housing at UC Berkeley, she’s tasked with building an inclusive community for students with very different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This awareness enables her to work well with people of all kinds, while appreciating other perspectives that challenge her to think differently, even those that she cannot easily relate to — especially before making decisions or taking action.
While she is concerned about the challenges of virtual work, she is incredibly excited to join a community of people that are passionate about creating relationships through doing meaningful and impactful work.
She looks forward to concluding the internship with new skills, new knowledge, solid professional relationships, and a deeper understanding of affordable housing and mission-oriented work. She’s excited to be able to confidently enter and carry a conversation about affordable housing, provide resources to educate others on the importance of this work, and start a career in this field after graduation.
Gabriela Jauregui (she/her) hails from UC Berkeley, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at EAH Housing.
Upon moving to Berkeley for college, Gabriela experienced housing insecurity for the first time while learning about poverty and inequality in the U.S. She learned that having affordable, stable, and adequate housing is a huge component for the overall well-being of families — not just financially but also academically, mentally, and physically. Focusing on housing is a personal issue for her, as she witnesses friends and the greater community suffering from not having affordable housing.
Gabriela came to BAHIP after working with NPH (specifically Monica and Peggy) via a different fellowship that involved designing a model to improve the internship experience. Through multiple interviews of current and previous interns, she became excited to learn more about the industry while continuing her enjoyable experience of working with NPH staff by applying as an intern herself.
Gabriela is excited to bring her unique perspective to the affordable housing field. In her words:
“My positionality within this society of being a Latina woman who is a low-income and first-generation college student positions me in a unique situation — because I not only understand the perspective of low-income renters looking for affordable housing, but also the perspective of real estate developers wanting to provide housing to their target populations.”
She finds herself most excited about completing funding applications, getting funds during predevelopment, and seeing the construction begin.
For Gabriela, success is obtaining a solid grasp of how affordable housing development works — from beginning to end: “It looks like being able to understand and work on proformas, know about the details about closing loans, and have worked on different finance applications to make sure that projects get funding. It looks like building relationships with the development team and setting myself up to continue my path in affordable housing development.”
Juke Jose (he/him) hails from Academy of Art University, and is fulfilling his 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC).
As a first generation immigrant, he and his family had to rewrite their lives in the United States. Having no foundation, stability, or security, his family had to overcome the struggles of finding affordable housing. When he first learned about BAHIP, he knew he had to be part of it:
“It was never a question of whether I would choose it or not because this internship does not only help me, but most importantly — it empowers my communities. Together, we are going to grow.”
As an architecture student, Juke believes that we can use architecture to shift the focus of our built environment to equity and community, while bridging people’s lives together. He’s most excited to work with people driven by the same goal to bring social justice to housing.
Upon conclusion of his internship, Juke hopes to inspire people like him to dream because success is not a straight path: “success can look like anything as long as we’re growing.”
Rebecca Kilmartin (she/her) hails from Cal State East Bay, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC).
Growing up in the Bay Area, she’s witnessed firsthand the difficulties of living in overcrowded conditions and paycheck to paycheck. As many of Rebecca’s family members worked well over 40 plus hours a week to pay rent and provide for their kids, affordable housing became a crucial part of her fight against systemic racism and exploitative capitalism:
“Affordable housing gives opportunities to people who’ve never had any to begin with. Housing is connected to almost every aspect that determines one’s quality of life. COVID-19 and the protests for justice all over the country just magnifies the issues connected with real estate, politics, and housing. After doing my own research about BAHIP I just knew I had to apply. Being an intern through BAHIP allows me to help those who are facing various struggles and tough decisions that my parents and family members know all too well. To be able to learn in a safe space and be supported by many while serving the community is everything to me.”
She credits her empowerment to her parents, a Tongan mother and an Irish father who came to the USA for a better life. After multiple struggles securing citizenship, adequate housing, work, and negotiating overcrowding, they both worked very hard to give Rebecca and her brother a better quality of life. She was alarmed by the blatant disparities between her Tongan side versus her Irish side when it came to housing, education, and opportunities in the U.S. She’s excited to “help change those disparities and the status quo. My personal experiences and knowledge will help me in my affordable housing career because I am very passionate about this work and can relate to a lot of the families and individuals that I will be working with.”
To Rebecca, success would look like helping “at least one individual or family obtain stable, good quality, safe, affordable housing.”
Upon conclusion of her internship, she looks forward to continue working in the affordable housing industry helping individuals and families in the community.
Joshua Lewis (he/him) hails from San Jose State University, and is fulfilling his 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at First Community Housing.
His passion for affordable housing development was sparked by witnessing, firsthand, his close family members experience housing troubles — from rent hikes to evictions and homelessness:
It is one of my primary missions to help provide housing for those struggling to find permanent housing. [After] a good friend/mentor in Lagi Tevaseu thoroughly broke down her experience in the [BAHIP] program, I was sold right away.
Working as a Supervisor of Event Operations at SJSU’S Event Center, Josh developed essential collaboration and leadership skills that ultimately empowered him with the perspective of a team player accustomed to sharing a common goal with fellow team members, while balancing playing lead and listener roles with his peers regardless of their job title.
While a little nervous about becoming skilled at things like Microsoft Excel, Josh is very excited to learn and master it. He is most excited to see “the finished product of an affordable housing development, and to see the reactions of the new residents as they view their new homes for the first time.”
For Josh, success would be “landing career opportunities in affordable housing development or project management, and also taking the knowledge I acquire and using it in my Master of Urban Planning courses in grad school.”
Sophia O’Neal (she/her) hails from Cal State East Bay, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Eden Housing.
Her passion for housing justice was sparked by her experiences as a kid living in sometimes unstable housing, and with long commutes from school and her mom’s work. “While it was hard moving around,” Sophia remembers:
“my mom made sure we always had a roof over our heads. I want to help provide stable housing for families and be able to make an impact.”
Sophia has personally witnessed how much gentrification has affected communities of color in the Bay Area, displacing large communities of black and brown residents struggling to find housing elsewhere. This fuels her desire to make a difference in her own community.
Upon conclusion of her internship, she looks forward to understanding both big picture issues like the development process, as well as the finer details of terminology and budgeting in Excel. Most of all, Sophia is excited to see projects to completion and visit the communities she is serving.
Roxana Salamanca (she/her) hails from Sonoma State University, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Burbank Housing.
Her passion for affordable housing development was sparked by being raised by a single mother and living in affordable housing from age three to twenty-one. In her words:
“Affordable housing is the reason I was able to pursue my dreams of attending a university. Affordable housing in Napa County allowed me to attend good public schools that eventually allowed me to receive a good education and a safe place to go to after a long day. Affordable housing has been a huge part of my life so I will make sure to help others the same way someone helped my family and me once.”
Roxana joined BAHIP because of the “passion from the alumni interns along with the ones running the internship. I specifically got drawn into this internship because I myself I am a go-getter and I love to work on projects that may take years to accomplish.” Affordable housing not only holds a special place in her heart, but it also allows her to branch and work across many sectors in the collaboration required for raising a building that will house hundreds of people.
In her words, “without affordable housing I myself would not be in the position I am at right now. Affordable housing allowed me to get the correct education needed to attend a University and allowed me to find this amazing internship.”
As Roxana begins this internship, she’s excited to walk away knowing the basics from Excel budget management to mastering all aspects of affordable housing project management, and ultimately to dedicate herself as a full time employee in a desirable host agency.
Elsa Salgado (she/her) hails from San Jose State University, and is fulfilling her 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Alta Housing.
Experiencing housing instability firsthand through multiple family moves Elsa empathizes with the many people who face their own housing insecurity and homelessness. Upon learning that 4,000 students at her college are experiencing homelessness, Elsa was determined to help people secure a safe and stable place to call home.
She’s most excited about moving forward BAHIP’s mission to involve students in the work of empowering communities, especially those of different ethnic backgrounds. Learning about housing segregation inspired her to want to bring more resources and opportunities to those who have battled with scarcity for themselves and their family in systems of injustice:
Sociology has awakened me to how our system might be skewed towards only bringing benefits to those who are wealthy, white, and privileged. It also taught me the necessary tools to embark on creating social change. Connecting with local governments and other partnerships is key towards bringing more opportunities for that change to happen. This is a collective dynamic that can — not only empower communities — but also make others aware of the need for affordable housing.
Upon conclusion of her internship, she looks forward to learning critical thinking and the behind-the-scenes skills that make affordable housing happen, while creating relationships and partnerships based on support and trust. Above all, she looks forward to joining a team that helps to bring someone a home, an organizational home that brings “positive change to my community and those around me.”
Justine You Ching Tsai (she/they) hails from UC Davis, and is fulfilling their 2020-2021 BAHIP internship at Resources for Community Development (RCD).
Their passion for affordable housing development was sparked by realizing that the built environment greatly affects accessibility and equity. In their words:
“Much of the privileges I have are attributed to where I lived, where I had access to good schools, medical care, grocery stores, transportation, and employment. As I furthered my studies, I noticed that not all my classmates had the luxuries I had growing up. Learning about zoning and urban planning revealed the racist and classist underbelly of why and how these disparities exist. Creating good affordable housing is a major component of creating change — it gives historically oppressed and exploited communities a space to fight, grow, work, play, and live their lives. Safe and appropriate housing is a human right and it is a necessary starting point to providing people with equitable futures.”
As a Community Development major at UC Davis, Justine is passionate about working within the community and from the community — particularly in the East/South Bay, where they grew up. BAHIP is also a program designed for diverse students and recent graduates. They were attracted to the BAHIP internship, “because culturally appropriate mentorship is very difficult to find, especially in non-profit spaces.”
Growing up in Fremont, a wealthy Asian-American suburb (with the 3rd highest percentage of Asians in any U.S. city), gave Justine a really unique experience in understanding housing and community:
Despite not being White, my community benefited adjacently from redlining, racial covenants, and economic privileges that have historically been given to white people. However, a singular understanding of Fremont and much of the South Bay erases the existence of working class Asian-Americans, as well as discriminatory housing laws that continue to hurt this community in the name of whiteness. I have a unique understanding of how race and class intersect and how it affects and are affected by our built environments. I believe this offers a perspective that centers on racial equity when advocating for and developing affordable housing.
Justine is most excited about “supporting the most vulnerable community members — because they have a right to be in these spaces too. I’m excited to start this work and meet people who are dedicated to their communities as much as I am.” And, they’re also eager to get comfortable working with numbers and learning decision-making processes in the industry.
Upon conclusion of their internship, Justine looks forward to understanding how affordable housing developments work and aligning with the right role in this field — whether it be project management, finance, resident services, or city planning. Success to Justine is both an inside and outside job, to understand “myself and the role I have in creating equity and justice. Ideally, this would lead to a full time job in the field or a decision to apply to graduate school to further my education in this field.”