Tag Archives: UNHP

Coverdell Fellow: Donovan Hotz ’19 at the University Neighborhood Housing Program

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.

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Coverdell Fellows at Fordham IPED

Michael Johnson at the Fordham BID

Michael Johnson during his duties at the Fordham BID

Each year the IPED program, in conjunction with the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, offers several Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) an academic fellowship to attend Fordham IPED. Recipients of the fellowship are partnered to work with a local community development organization. Last year, IPED offered five fellowships to incoming graduate students for the class of 2018. Each of the fellows has an internship with a Bronx community partner to gain experience in urban development in the United States.

Erika Cox, Class of 2018

Erika Cox with a community art piece for the Fordham BID

 

Michael Johnson and Erika Cox are both partnered with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID), an organization comprised of local retailers who promote business development and improve the quality of life along Fordham Road, a major retail street serving various immigrant and low-income communities in the Bronx. Michael works in a role as Business Outreach Coordinator and managing the team of Fordham undergraduate interns. Erika spends her time coordinating public affairs campaigns, planning art beautification projects, and as the organization partner liaison.

Kelsey Garcia, Class of 2018

Kelsey Garcia during filming of a promotional video for the Belmont Community

Kelsey Garcia is partnered with the Belmont BID, to promote the economic wellbeing of the business community by promotion of the “Little Italy in the Bronx” brand and its strong ethnic heritage and leadership in the community. The BID’s focus areas are sanitation, security, marketing and promotion, cultural programming, and streetscape improvements. Kelsey is a community relations intern and was recently featured in a promotional commercial for the community.

Jessica Way, Class of 2018, at UNHP

Jessica Way at the UNHP 2016 Fundraiser

Jessica Way is a research intern at University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), a north-west Bronx non-profit dedicated to improving affordable housing attainment in the community. UNHP achieves its mission by issuing low interest loans and providing technical assistance to community leaders and affordable housing managers through the Northwest Bronx Resource Center. UNHP has a blog with more information.

Cody Harder, Class of 2018

Cody Harder works with the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) as a Project Development Intern. The Project Development Department is responsible for construction projects from beginning to the completion and closing.

All Coverdell Fellows are full-time students pursing their internships on a part time (12 hours per week) basis.

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2016 Bronx Community Day Career Trip

On Friday, September 16, Fordham IPED students met at Concourse House in the Bronx for the annual Bronx Community Day Career Trip.

IPED at Concourse House

IPED at Concourse House

meetings

IPED Students at Concourse House

After a light breakfast provided by UNHP, the IPED students met a Bronx development panel with Elizabeth Strojan, an IPED alumna from Enterprise, Jumelia Abrahamson from University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), John Reilly from Fordham Bedford Housing Corporations (FBHC), John Garcia from Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS), and a representative from Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC). Starting with a brief history of housing in the Bronx from the 1960s to present, the panel discussed the work that their respective organizations do in the Bronx and the greater New York City area, including testimonials for why they work in their chosen profession and the progress they have seen through their involvement in the community.

Panelists Speaking

Panelists speaking.

panel

Bronx Development Panel

After the panel discussion, Gregory Jost from Designing the WE treated the students to a history lesson on how the Bronx became what we see and know today. From humble beginnings, to grandiose development, to its modern depiction, his presentation discussing the “Undesign the Redline” framework showed how the most affluent neighborhood in the East was transformed into a bastion of poverty and violence by exploring structural racism and classism and their repercussions in today’s Bronx.

Within 15 Years...

Within 15 Years…

The Bronx during the New Deal

The Bronx during the New Deal

Students being redlined

Students being redlined

Designing the WE

Designing the WE

The day ended with a late bagged lunch in Poe Park, just behind Edgar Allen Poe’s home, where the discussion with Mr. Jost continued.

Gregory Jost in Poe Park

Gregory Jost in Poe Park

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Student Spotlight: Adam Pearlman at the University Neighborhood Housing Program

Adam Feature

Adam Pearlman (IPED 2017) is a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow Intern at the University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP) in the Bronx. UNHP is a community-based non-profit organization that has worked for over 30 years to create and preserve affordable housing and bring resources to the northwest Bronx.  Their projects typically focus on low-income and homeless demographics. Since 2006, 12 Fordham IPED Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows have been hosted at UNHP.

As an intern, Adam performs studies and surveys and analyzes data in various areas such as housing policy, affordable water policy, and energy conservation, among others. Currently, he is focusing on an assessment of daycare provider subsidies that allow low-income working parents to afford childcare so they can maintain full-time employment. His assessment shows that daycare subsidies, which have been stagnant for over a decade, do not cover the costs of providing the service. Together with colleagues at UNHP, he facilitates dialogue between stakeholders to address issues, share best practices, and develop solutions.

In addition to his work on daycare subsidies, Adam helps in the Free Tax Preparation Program which assists low-income Bronx residents in preparing their taxes and contributes to the updating of databases on the status of city housing, which are used by lending institutions to assess their investments.

Adam shares that “My experiences at UNHP have increased my awareness and understanding of low-income and urban issues in the United States. The work of UNHP and other similar community development organizations is vital to the success of developing urban society, and I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with UNHP and contribute to these efforts.”

The internship with UNHP provides hands-on learning and valuable work experience in an urban environment. It provides an opportunity for fellows to develop valuable career skills, enhance their professional acumen, and increase their awareness and understanding of low-income and urban issues. The internship is part of the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship offered to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers at Fordham.

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