Fourth-Year Environmental Health Science Major, Public Health Minor
How I got involved with IMPACT:
I am going into my fourth year with IMPACT and to this day, I can’t remember who told me about it but I’d love to tell them thank you. Freshman year, I was involved with a lot of random organizations (in typical freshman-fashion), but I remember thinking that IMPACT would be fun because it’s a service-oriented, one-time commitment. My first trip was focused on Youth Advocacy in Bluefield, WV, and every time I told someone I was going to a small town in West Virginia for spring break, they thought I was crazy but in the end, I can't imagine having spent my first spring break any other way. Since then, I have participated in the Veterans’ Awareness and Shelter and Resource Access trips, and now I have the pleasure of returning as one of the site leaders for an Affordable Housing trip. These past few years have been full of eye-opening experiences and great friendships, and I owe it all to IMPACT and the programs and people it has connected me to. My college experience wouldn’t have been the same without it!
Why I am interested in my Affordable Housing:
I am interested in the Affordable Housing trip focus because the topic was somewhat embedded into my last IMPACT trip, but I knew there was so much to learn about that specific aspect of Shelter and Resource Access. Additionally, my family works closely with the housing market and it has been interesting to see how the topics I have been researching are things I’ve heard my parents discuss in the past. For example, laws from decades ago have had lasting effects on housing disparities and inadvertent segregation that we can see in some communities today when it comes to school districts, neighborhood demographics, etc., and I’m more than ready to see first-hand what that looks like in Tuscaloosa.
I’m not superstitious or anything (except for with the Arch, you won’t see me walk under there until December 2019), but I love when unexplainable coincidences happen because they always deal with the number 3. For example, I have lived on the third floor during my whole college career. Creswell Hall 304. Busbee Hall 316. I even live on the third floor of my townhouse off-campus.
Third Year Communication Sciences and Disorders Major, Writing Certificate
How I got involved with IMPACT:
When I first came to UGA, I was pretty overwhelmed by all of the clubs on campus. I joined a few of the larger organizations, but I didn’t feel like my experiences were particularly memorable. I found out about IMPACT by chance. A few of my friends encouraged me to sign up for a trip on the last day applications were open. I ended up going on a trip for Native American Cultural Advocacy and Awareness, and the experience was everything I wanted and more. Hands on service, the chance to explore new communities, and the inevitable close friendships that ultimately evolved were more than enough to make me want to continue my involvement in IMPACT and become a site leader. Last year, I led my first IMPACT trip for Animal Advocacy in Charleston! The experience was so amazing that I returned for another year as a site leader, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Why I am interested in Affordable Housing:
One of the reasons I love IMPACT is because it allows me to explore topics in depth that I had little knowledge on before. There are so many stereotypes surrounding affordable housing and the people affected by the search for and struggle to maintain decent housing. I was ecstatic to have received this trip focus because it has given me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what affordable housing looks like in the U.S. It is a topic that can affect so many different types of people from all walks of life, and I can’t wait to continue learning throughout my journey as a site leader for this trip!
I have a strange amount of odd celebrity encounters. Most recently, I went to a spa with my mom on my birthday and ended up seeing Tyra Banks completely de-robe as she got into the hot tub. It was a truly magical experience.
- Affordable housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as a dwelling that costs 30% or less of a family’s income.
- Subsidized housing: Housing that is sponsored by the government to alleviate some financial burden for families with low to moderate incomes.
- Gentrification: Often used in a negative context, gentrification refers to the influx of more affluent people into an existing community. This can lead to an increase in property values that often forces the original dwellers to move. The process of gentrification can be complex and can viewed in both positive and negative lights.
- Redlining: Although illegal today, redlining refers to the historical practice of drawing “red lines” around minority communities. This resulted in the refusal to issue loans on properties located in these communities, which caused a mass exodus of white homeowners from areas marked by red ink. The effects of redlining still negatively impact many primarily African American neighborhoods in the U.S.
- Fair Housing Act: The main purpose of the Fair Housing Act is to protect buyers and renters from various forms of discrimination from sellers and landlords. The seven protected classes under this act are race, color, religion, sex, ability status, familial status, and national origin.
- Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8): Section 8 was formed as a result of the Fair Housing Act. It provides assistance for rent payments to private landlords on the behalf of qualified low income tenants.
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA): The FHA insures mortgages and provides mortgage insurance loans to single family and multifamily homes (this also includes manufactures homes and hospitals). Their mortgages protect lenders against losses that could result from homeowners defaulting on their loans.
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): The HUD’s mission is to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities, and quality affordable homes” by working to ensure a suitable number of affordable rental homes and to work against discrimination and exclusivity in communities.
- The Fair Housing Act doesn’t necessarily forbid housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or source of income (such as housing choice vouchers) so it is up to local governments to include those forbiddances in their laws.
- A series of 38 tornados in 2011 resulted in the worst natural disaster in Alabama’s state history. This natural disaster heavily affected housing in Tuscaloosa and the city has been working to recover from this issue ever since then.
- Tuscaloosa poverty rate: 23.9%, which is much higher than the national average of 14%.
- Athens-Clarke County’s poverty rate falls at 27.1 percent when excluding college students.
- Not every county has an adequate program or shelter to aid homeless populations. This results in homeless persons from other counties often being dropped off in Athens.
- Article by Richard Rothstein discussing his book The Color of Law
- How does fair housing look today and in the future?
- Insight to the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado
- Data USA profile on Tuscaloosa
- Section 8 Vouchers
- What is affordable housing?
- Interactive video about the impact of natural disasters on communities
- What happens when neighborhoods gentrify?
- A ‘Forgotten History” of How the U.S. Government Segregated America
- This article examines the relationship between access to housing and racial discrimination by outlining the ways that the Federal Housing Administration facilitated and perpetuated segregation and disenfranchisement efforts in neighborhoods
- “Don’t design yet another shelter” for refugees, says experts
- This article looks at how northern Europe is addressing the influx of refugees and calls into question whether refugee-specific housing is helpful or harmful in the long run.
- LGBTQ People Face Unique Housing Challenges
- This article looks at how sexuality and gender can affect the housing that people have access too, especially because it is up to individual states to make it unlawful for landlords to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity (the Federal Housing Act doesn’t yet mention these two identities as protected identities).