Julia Davtyan (she/her/hers), Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco
Julia is passionate about affordable housing because she is a first-generation American who has not only experienced housing insecurity in her own life, but has also witnessed it impact many people around her. For Julia, housing is more than just a roof over your head; it’s the first step to stability in all aspects of life. Julia is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Sociology at CSU East Bay which has provided her a clear picture of how the housing crisis impacts people of all origins, but mostly people of color. The last book she read was Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid and she recommends the show over the book. Her favorite meal is any sort of pasta/noodle; her favorite class is Medical Sociology; and her parents were the first people who inspired Julia to vote.
Justin Parker (he/him/his)
Justin Parker (he/him/his), Alta Housing
Justin grew up in rural and inner city areas where there were very little or no resources dedicated to affordable housing. He believes that it’s important to support communities of color that face a lack of adequate housing and that his personal struggles with housing and financial instability give him a unique lens through which to approach the work of affordable housing. The last book Justin read was Side Hustle Bible by James Altchuer; his favorite food is homemade shrimp garlic noodles; his favorite class is Sociology; and his parents’ experience of voter suppression is what first motivated him to want to vote.
Saidy Reyes (she/her/hers)
Saidy Reyes (she/her/hers), EAH Housing
Saidy has experienced house instability ever since she was young and knows what it feels like to not have your own place to call home. Saidy’s major is Architecture and she has also studied pre-landscape architecture. She serves as student trustee for her university’s student government, where she is a voice for the student body. Her goal in this role is to ensure that her fellow students get the support they need and feel comfortable around the campus. The last book she read was Punished by Victor Rios; her favorite food is Estofado, a Guatemalan dish; and her favorite class is History of Latinxs.
Rosalind Alviar (she/they)
Christian Church Homes
Rosalind Alviar (she/they), Christian Church Homes
Rosalind grew up in a low-income family that struggled with housing living in a wealthy city, and for this reason, wants to help others in need. The idea of contributing to the construction and maintenance of affordable housing is very fulfilling to her. Since she was a child, Rosalind has been passionate about social justice issues and standing up for marginalized people. Her work experience in retail and banking services expanded her communications skills and provided an environment where she encountered and worked with many low-income people. The last book Rosalind read was The Alchemist; her favorite food is Enchiladas Michoacanas; her favorite classes are Fashion Design and Sustainable Development in Cities; and the controversy surrounding Donald Trump was the first issue that made her want to vote.
Alec Cruz (he/him/his)
Alec Cruz (he/him/his), Mercy Housing
Alec’s personal experience with homelessness and housing insecurity has led to his interest in affordable housing. He recently recognized the value of affordable housing as a foundation from which the higher needs of individuals (e.g. safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem) are met. Alec’s past work experience in managing market-rate rental properties has given him a first-hand look at the hardships experienced by individuals and families when they are rent-burdened and/or lack tenant protections. The last book Alec read was The Road to Resegregation: Northern California and the Failure of Politics by Alex Schafran; his favorite food is enchiladas; his favorite class is The Urban Community; and the first issue that made him want to vote was Proposition 17 (2020).
Lia Byrd (she/her/hers)
Lia Byrd (she/her/hers), The Kelsey
Lia was raised in a two-parent household and even though they had two incomes, they always moved around to find an affordable home for the family. This experience is what made Lia become interested in the affordable housing field. With the Bay Area being one of the most expensive places to live, Lia can see the impacts on her and her community, and she wants to be a part of the solution. In a social justice academy she attended, Lia learned how racism and discrimination impact housing access for people of color. The last book Lia read was The Parable of the Talents; her favorite food is pizza; her favorite class is Social Justice; and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was the first issue that motivated her to want to vote.
Cynthia Dhananjayan (she/her/hers)
Cynthia Dhananjayan (she/her/hers), Eden Housing
Cynthia had to leave her home for the sake of her safety and health, which taught her that simply having a physical home is not enough – people need safety, community, and resources. This experience is what has made her interested in the affordable housing field. Cynthia believes that her background in Public Health brings a critical perspective on how important safe, secure housing is for a person’s health outcomes. The last book Cynthia read was Stardust by Neil Gaiman and it’s her favorite book (and movie). Stardust always reminds her that things happen for a reason. She is constantly craving an In-N-Out burger with grilled onions; her favorite class was English Composition in high school; and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was the first issue that motivated her to want to vote.
Toby Simmons (he/him/his)
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
Toby Simmons (he/him/his), Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
Toby believes that one’s zip code and genetic code have an equal impact in determining individual outcomes in life. He sees how spaces, community, stability, and housing all work together to affect our lives, and believes that affordable housing is key for advancing individual empowerment, collective action, and belonging. Toby sees how the experience of BAHIP and the affordable housing field aligns nicely with his identities and interests. He’s reading and enjoying some titles by Byung-Chul Han, and his favorite class was Political Economy 100: Classical Theories of Political Economy. He saw this class as a great introduction to a number of the intellectual underpinnings of Western thought.
Maritza Martinez (she/her/hers)
Christian Church Homes
Maritza Martinez (she/her/hers), Christian Church Homes
At a young age, Maritza acknowledged the harsh reality of struggling for necessities and essentials. Growing up, she and her family lived in affordable housing, experiencing long waitlists when attempting to obtain a subsidy voucher (Section 8). While they waited, Maritza and her family of five stayed in a one-bedroom home at her grandma’s house. For Maritza, navigating a society with biased opinions about individuals using government assistance can be complex and has led to her interest in raising awareness of the societal benefits of affordable housing. The last book Maritza read was The Mountain Is You; her favorite meal is tacos de asada with cilantro and cebolla; her favorite class is Mental Health and Illness; and the controversy surrounding Donald Trump was the first issue that made her want to vote.
Tanya grew up with personal experiences of both poverty and homelessness in the East Bay and she recalls failing to make wait lists for Section 8 in Antioch and living in her car at one point while in college. She feels that these experiences uniquely positioned her for her work as a case manager and housing navigator for Berkeley Food & Housing Project.
She is excited to network, grow, and learn alongside the BAHIP cohort and is looking forward to nerding out on the finance aspect of affordable housing development. The last book she read was “The Rape of Nanking”; her favorite meal is Kare-Kare (Filipino Peanut Stew with Oxtail); her favorite class in college was International Relations; and the first person who made her want to vote is Ro Khanna.
Kayla has personally experienced housing insecurity and has noticed how this crisis impacts similar groups of people, with effects rippling out to the respective communities. She sees housing insecurity as a key culprit in keeping minority groups unseen and underprivileged and Kayla wants to work to change this. She is looking forward to advocating for underprivileged communities, work Kayla views as deeply meaningful. She feels her personal experience with housing insecurity enables her to understand and connect with others who are going through the same thing.
The last book Kayla read was “Passing By: Gender and Public Harassments”; her favorite meal is birria; her favorite class in college was Creative Writing; and the first issue that made her want to vote was seeing her parents negatively impacted by American culture, not being able to vote themselves nor voice their needs and beliefs.
As a daughter of immigrants and living in the Silicon Valley pre-Google/Facebook era, the most unstable factor in Jasmine’s life has always been housing. Even today, housing affordability remains a key area of concern for her and her parents. Jasmine believes that fighting for affordable housing as well as a progressive pathway to citizenship can transform the Bay Area, helping ensure financial and emotional stability for the families in her community.
Jasmine lives in Menlo Park, right next to MidPen’s Willow Terrance building, where she sees firsthand the impact of high-quality affordable housing on families and this inspires her every day. The last book Jasmine read was “Lovely Bones”; her favorite meal is Chow-Mein; her favorite college class was Space and Society While Abroad; and her parents are what inspired her to want to vote.
Jamar Walker (he/him/his)
Community Housing Development Corporation
Jamar Walker (he/him/his), Community Housing Development Corporation
Jamar knows firsthand the need for and impact of affordable housing, with family members who currently reside in affordable housing and others who need it. By participating in BAHIP, he sees an opportunity to help advance affordable housing and looks forward to the internship helping him figure out which direction he should pursue in the field.
Jamar is driven to help others, learn fast, and jump into this work, excited to grow in the field and apply what he’s already learned in real estate. The last book Jamar read was “Atomic Habits”; his favorite meal is pizza; his favorite college class was math; and education is the first issue that made him want to vote.
Tariq believes that we must take care of how we live, improving the planet for everyone, and that affordable housing is key to this stewardship of humans and the planet. He looks forward to BAHIP building his knowledge and experience to achieve his goals: learning how to develop and execute affordable housing. Previously, Tariq was director of an art gallery focused on social justice, where he was exposed to personal stories through the art, many related to housing and the challenges that the people in his community face.
Through his exposure to local art, Tariq better understands the past and present of the Bay Area. The last book Tariq read was “How to Be an Anti-Racist”; his favorite meal is Beef Wellington with green vegetables and a baked sweet potato; his favorite college class was Urban Studies and Planning; and the first person that made him want to vote was Barack Obama.
Stephanie was born and raised in Stockton, raised by her grandparents in a one-bedroom apartment. At one time, she, her sister, brother, uncle, parents, and grandparents all lived in that apartment. Once in high school, her grandparents were evicted and had to move into her uncle’s garage, where they remained for the rest of their lives. This personal history is what has made Stephanie passionate about affordable housing; she believes no person should be forced into a cramped or unclean living space. Her educational background in architecture gives her a unique perspective on affordable housing, with knowledge of both large and small-scale development, community engagement, universal design, and narrative.
The last book Stephanie read was “The Fundamentals of Building Construction”; her favorite meal is sushi or French toast; her favorite college class was Urbanization in Developing Countries; and the first person who made her want to vote was her high school leadership teacher.
Victoria believes space is political, gaining this perspective through her work as a student advocating for buildings on her college campus to be de-named for their racist and eugenist backgrounds. Through the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, Victoria encouraged young adults in impacted California counties to get the COVID-19 vaccine; learned about the impacts of redistricting on marginalized communities in San Francisco; and explored housing policy on a city level. These opportunities have taught her how policies can impact communities and placemaking. She believes housing is a basic need that impacts every aspect of life and feels she can enter the affordable housing field with compassion and an understanding of how stressful unstable housing can be.
Victoria’s favorite meal is Caldo de Res; her favorite class in college was Bioethics; and the first issue that made her want to vote was preserving and protecting voting rights and access.
Ángel was born and raised in South East Los Angeles, where he saw communities becoming gentrified. This impacted him because he believes everyone deserves to live in their communities and have high-quality housing. As a child, Ángel remembers assisting his parents with their businesses: roofing and taco catering. This made him aware, at an early age, of the unique situation of small local businesses; immigrants; and low-income folks in his community. He’s excited to learn about affordable housing development and sees the Bay Area as uniquely positioned to innovate smart affordable housing design that can support people and enable them to thrive long-term.
The last book Ángel read was “Assata: An Autobiography”; his favorite meal is Enchiladas Mineras de Guanjuato; and his favorite class in college was Community Based Research, where he researched the impact of murals in the Washington – Guadalupe Community in San Jose. The first issue that made him want to vote was learning about the broken immigration system in the United States.
Taylor Love (she/her/hers)
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
Taylor Love (she/her/hers), Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
Taylor believes affordable, safe, and equitable housing is a basic human right, not a luxury or privilege. Throughout her childhood, Taylor’s family was severely impacted by housing instability, and the experiences that stemmed from that still impact her and her siblings to this day. She is excited to learn and grow in the affordable housing field and wants to make the most of BAHIP by using this opportunity to empower and support the community that her host agency serves. The last book Taylor read was “Native Son”, and her favorite class in college was Religion, Magic, Cults, and Witchcraft.
Danny comes from a region in Los Angeles that is known for its criminal activity, gang violence and poverty. This allowed him to see extreme cases of homelessness and lack of equitable housing due to the socioeconomic status of the community members, prompting him to explore affordable housing development.Through his internship with the San Jose Police Department, he has discovered ways to better serve underprivileged communities, assisting non English speakers with writing crime reports that happen in their neighborhood. Most of these crimes take place in areas where housing conditions are unstable and lack community support.
Danny loves Korean BBQ and the last book he read was Kobe Bryant: The Mamba Mentality. He got involved in politics in high school, and back in 2016, he campaigned for Hillary Clinton.
As a Mexican-American woman whose parents came to the United States twenty years ago in search of a better life, Priscila’s ambition and passion were born out of their sacrifice and determination. She is reminded of how privileged and amazing it is to be born to a stable home, and she believes that everyone should be given an equal opportunity for a home of their own. Priscila embraces a sense of community that has always been at the forefront of her work. Her focus on affordable housing is based on an interest in equity and the notion that everyone should have more agency over their lives.
Priscila is currently reading A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair and she would highly recommend it if you are into romance and mythology books. She loves Korean fried chicken and pizza. She is passionate about trans rights, discourse about immigration, and other issues that affect BIPOC.
Growing up in the Bay Area, Monica has seen first hand how unaffordable it has become to live in the region and the impacts gentrification has had. As a student, she was forced to move back home since she no longer was guaranteed housing, as rent prices in Berkeley are extremely unaffordable even with multiple roommates. As a member of the community that many Bay Area nonprofit agencies are serving, Monica is proud to represent some of the diverse voices within the region’s population.
The last book Monica read was The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. Her favorite food is pozole, and the first issues that moved her to vote were immigration and women’s rights.
Being an international student, Vanya has lived in various countries around Asia, and throughout all the moving and new cities, the housing crisis was always a constant. No matter what county or city she visited and lived in, affordable housing was always lacking. She noticed that low-income groups are pushed out of the housing market, and thus face the worst of all crises. Vanya is interested in exploring food systems, education, urban design and healthcare and how these all tie in with affordable housing.
Vanya is excited about potentially going out in the affordable housing field and interacting with residents as well as the ground staff that are monumental in keeping these communities healthy and thriving.
Yajaira and her family have suffered from unaffordable housing, which motivates her to help communities and families that are also struggling by spreading positivity and encouragement and sharing ways to find an affordable home. Yajaira believes that everyone is entitled to have a place to call home and be safe at all times. She is excited to see what progress she might make for the better of her community.
The last book Yajaira read was Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration, and her favorite food is Fettuccine Chicken Alfredo. The first two people who encouraged Yajaira to vote were her parents. Yajaira votes for the betterment of her community and to promote peace in the world.
Jannya has firsthand experience with affordable housing, having lived in Section 8 housing throughout her adolescence and adulthood. Jannya sees the inequality and unfair treatment towards residents of affordable housing, especially for people of color. She applied to BAHIP because she wants to uplift the African American community through affordable housing opportunities, financial literacy, and landownership. She hopes to start her own nonprofit someday, where she can provide affordable housing as well as opportunities for property ownership.
The last book Jannya read was Powernomics, and her favorite meals are cereal and jerk chicken with rice and peas. Her experience as an African American woman has led her to strive for change on a systemic level, rather than solely voting.
Having lived in affordable housing, Bryan knows first hand how important stable, safe housing is and the opportunities it creates for communities. Bryan grew up and lives in San Francisco, where he has witnessed how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated wealth inequality and a low housing stock, as well as the policies that have made housing unattainable for long-standing and existing residents. Bryan sees BAHIP as a unique opportunity to be a part of something larger than himself and represent the voices of people who live in affordable housing.
The last book Bryan read was Atomic Habits, and he never tires of eating sushi! His favorite class in college is Land-Use, where he is learning about zoning districts and laws that shape cities. The first time Bryan ever voted was for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Vanessa Amaya, Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)
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!
The Unity Council
Ann Chen, The Unity Council
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, EAH Housing
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.”
Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
Juke Jose, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC)
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, Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC)
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, Burbank Housing
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, Resources for Community Development (RCD)
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.”