By: Donovan Hotz ’19
As part of my Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellowship with the Fordham IPED program I work part-time as an intern at University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP). The organization is a community-focused nonprofit corporation first founded in 1983 with support from Fordham University and later from the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. UNHP’s mission is to “create, preserve, and improve affordable housing and bring needed resources to the Northwest Bronx.” UNHP provides many services from low interest loans to technical assistance to community leaders, groups, and affordable housing managers through organization around and research of the issues that impact housing affordability and community resources.As an intern, my main work has been in managing the Building Indicator Project (BIP) database. The purpose of the BIP is to identify physical and/or financial distresses on multifamily properties in New York City. Each quarter we send out an updated database to subscribers that include financial institutions andcommunity groups. This report allows UNHP to work with lenders, public agencies, foundations, community groups, and banking regulators to improve housing conditions for low-income families. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to work at UNHP events like the Financial Resource Fair for Bronx residents and the organization’s free tax preparation services for low-income NYC residents. It has been nice to balance my work on the BIP with working face-to-face with community members. It has even given me the opportunity to keep up with my Spanish!
As most of my experience in community-based work has been during my Peace Corps service in rural communities in Paraguay, working at UNHP has been a quite a contrast in terms of the issues and challenges that low-income families face in the Bronx. It has been great to learn from and work alongside the enthusiastic and dedicated team at UNHP.