The VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project (VAHPP) is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
During the first year, Equal Justice Works will manage 45 VISTA Members – 12 Legal Fellows and 33 Community Organizers – in the provision of community organizing and legal services work with the goal of preserving, maintaining, and improving project-based Section 8 affordable housing across the United States. Equal Justice Works will work closely with the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) to accomplish this goal.
Legal Fellows and Community Organizers will serve a minimum of one year and have the opportunity to serve for two years at selected host sites. Legal Fellow host site locations include: Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, St. Paul, Washington D.C., and Worcester. Learn more here.Apply directly to host sites now! VAHPP Members will begin their year of service between February and April of 2015.
Legal Fellows’ responsibilities include (can vary slightly based on host site):
- Provide generalized support and legal information to VISTA organizers
- Support VISTA organizers in developing formal by-laws and incorporating tenant associations of residents
- Interview residents and conduct research to properly identify the legal challenges of each relevant building
- Attend membership meetings and present “Know your Rights and Responsibilities” workshops
- Facilitate meetings and/or mediations between tenant associations and HUD representatives
- Draft correspondence to HUD on behalf of tenant associations
- Document and file administrative complaints with HUD regarding environmental hazards, substandard management, and general quality of life issues
- Represent tenants and tenant associations at administrative hearings
- Recruit and assist pro bono attorneys to support the project
- Advise tenant associations and organizing sites regarding the best course of action to build tenant associations and preserve affordable housing
- Assist organizing groups to assemble technical assistance teams where tenant ownership or nonprofit financing is determined to be the best course of action
- Provide litigation support to legal host site staff (can include legal research and writing, client interviews, assistance with administrative hearings, discovery and trial preparation) as it relates to VAHPP
Some requirements for this program are included below. Please see position descriptions through the host sites’ websites to learn more.
- Legal Fellows must have a JD
- Community Organizers must have relevant experience
- All applicants must be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S.
- All applicants must be 18 years of age
- Experience working in the field of affordable housing preservation preferred
- Experience with community lawyering and/or law and organizing preferred
- Spanish language proficiency a plus (not required)
Each applicant must apply directly with the host site. More information can be found here: http://equaljusticeworks.org/post-grad/VAHPP/host-sites.
Applicants can also use the AmeriCorps VISTA application portal (required if they are selected by a host site): https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=58341&fromSearch=true
Inquiries can be sent to: VAHPP@equaljusticeworks.org.