AMERICORPS VISTA PROGRAM

Now Accepting AmeriCorps VISTA Host Site Applications for the 2022/2023 Service Year!

Is your organization engaged in increasing housing opportunities and/or reducing homelessness in Virginia? Is your organization interested in hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA member to help expand your capacity? Download the application today to become one of VHA’s 14 VISTA Host Sites for the 2022/2023 year! VHA will be hosting a Host Site Information Session via Zoom on Tuesday, November 9 at 3pm to discuss the benefits of hosting a VISTA, the site’s responsibilities, and to answer any questions regarding the program and/or application. To RSVP to this event, please fill out the Host Site RSVP form.

What Host Sites Receive

  • One full time VISTA to serve 35-40 hours/week for a full year
  • Capacity building services to help make your organization for efficient and effective
  • Additional volunteers, grant revenue, and/or in-kind donations that the VISTA member generates for your organization
  • 3 year VISTA cycle guarantee to work at your organization
  • VHA provides: supervisor and VISTA training, program oversight, grant reporting, assistance with recruitment and work plan development, and performance measures/data collection on VISTA impact

To read more about the program requirements, who can apply, terms and conditions, and how a VHA VISTA Member can impact your organization, please download the VHA VISTA Program Overview and the 2020/21 VHA VISTA Impact Report.

All applications are due via email to the VHA Program Manager by Friday, December 3, 2021. Applicants must use the application format provided by VHA. It is highly recommended that all applicants review the Application Instructions prior to submitting their application. To apply, please download the application and the application instructions.

For any questions regarding the application or the VHA VISTA Program, please contact the VHA VISTA Program Manager, Hannah Moore (hmoore@vahousingalliance.org).

  • About VISTA
  • VISTA Positions
  • VISTA Cohort
  • VISTA Sites
  • FAQ
  • Awardees

About the AmeriCorps VISTA Program

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) was founded in 1965 as a national service program designed specifically to fight poverty in America. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). AmeriCorps VISTA Members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency. They focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight poverty in communities.

The VHA AmeriCorps VISTA Project provides the human capital necessary to support the transition to sustainable and more effective systems for VHA member organizations, while engaging VISTA Members in the causes of and solutions to homelessness and lack of affordable housing.

What our VISTAs do

VISTAs create systems that remain long after their term of service ends. VISTA projects expand the scale, impact, and resource-leveraging ability of specific anti-poverty programs. VISTA members strengthen sponsors’ efforts by expanding community partnerships, securing long term resources, and addressing specific local needs, with all activities focused on creating pathways out of poverty for low-income communities.

VISTA members must focus on building the capacity of specific anti-poverty programs and interventions and not on general capacity building for the sponsor or its sites. While VISTAs focus on capacity-building activities, they may, on occasion, perform limited direct service activities when deemed necessary to complete the VISTA’s overall capacity-building assignment. 

Basic requirements for the program include:

VHA VISTA membership benefits:

The VHA VISTA impact

Our project continues to grow to bring on more dedicated members to serve our communities with a focus on ending homelessness and expanding affordable housing in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to the success of the project, VHA’s member organizations have expanded its capacity to serve some of the most vulnerable Virginians. 

Since the first VHA VISTA members began serving Virginia CoCs and housing agencies, our members have:
  • Prepared written PIT/HIC analysis and presented to CoC members
  • Established a triage assessment tool/process to effectively target rapid re-housing resources

  • Developed a comprehensive program guide of local homeless services and providers to assist in the development of the coordinated assessment system

  • Gathered information, assisted with CoC planning and composed narrative responses related to the state funding application

  • Profiled best practice programs and partnerships to highlight Virginia communities and providers

  • And much more!

We are currently accepting VISTA member applications

Applicants are encouraged to apply for multiple positions if they are interested. Once you’ve applied, the VHA VISTA Program Manager, Hannah Moore, will be in contact to set up a pre-screening interview. For more information on any of the sites or the application process, please email hmoore@vahousingalliance.org.

Available positions:
DHCD Eviction Prevention Specialist VISTA, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is committed to creating safe, affordable, and prosperous communities to live, work and do business in Virginia. DHCD’s VISTA member project will focus on the agency’s current and future efforts on assessing policies as well as designing and implementing the Rent Relief Program and the Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot (VERP), which will demonstrate effective strategies to reduce the commonwealth’s rates of evictions. The VISTA member will assist the agency in building capacity to fully study evictions through data collection, data analysis, researching eviction early intervention and diversion program designs, and engaging stakeholders.

ProjectHOMES Marketing Assistant VISTA

Project:HOMES works to improve the quality of life and housing conditions for low-income Central Virginians through critical home repairs, accessibility modifications, energy efficiency upgrades, and quality affordable homes. The VISTA member will help create a media, branding, and outreach strategy that successfully communicates Project:HOMES’ impact to volunteers, funders, and the community in which they serve. The goal of this project is to raise Project:HOMES’ profile in order to increase community engagement and draw in new donors and partners to expand services while better serving the community.

VISTA Cohort 2021-2022

Michael West

Project: Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care VISTA
Host site: George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC)

Michael West is a retired academic researcher and policy/program analyst, focusedprimarily in disability services for youth and adults. He currently assists non-profit organizations with pursuing grant funds and conducting project evaluations as a consultant or as a volunteer. He and his family have resided in Virginia since 1987. In his free time, he enjoys spoiling his
granddaughter and participating in online gaming communities.

Michael was attracted to the Virginia Housing Alliance’s AmeriCorps VISTA program for several reasons. First, he was seeking opportunities to apply his skills to help address community needs in his adopted home state. Secondly, he has experienced satisfying experiences when working/volunteering with housing and employment services for homeless veterans. Finally, he is a wheelchair user, and the VHA program and the GWRC listing has specific project descriptions in evaluation and monitoring that could be performed with accommodations.

Miguel Alarcon

Project: Homeless Response System Equitable Standards of Care VISTA
Host site: Virginia Beach Department of Housing Homeless Services Division

Miguel Alarcon is no stranger to the Hampton Roads area, having grown up there after immigrating from the Philippines when he was seven years old. With its peacefulness and its abundance of things to do, he’s grateful that his family chose this cozy little corner of Virginia to settle into. He’s been able to have a comfortable life thanks to the support he’s felt, but he knows many are not so lucky. He joined VISTA because he believes those privileged enough to have a decent life should help others have theirs. As a VISTA for the Virginia Beach Department of Housing Homeless Services Division, he hopes to begin a lifelong mission doing so: starting with the little corner he’s called home. 

Miguel’s hobbies include reading and listening to podcasts. His favorite book is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and he recommends it to anyone looking for a great weekend read (though in Miguel’s case, he binged it all in one sitting). He loves stories and recommends The Truth for anyone wanting an audio drama podcast to dive into.

Megan Goyer

Project: Renovation Alliance System Analyst VISTA
Host site: Renovation Alliance

Megan Goyer is serving as the Systems Analyst VISTA for Renovation Alliance in Roanoke, VA. Megan graduated from William & Mary in May 2021 with a degree in Government. As an undergrad, she served on the executive board of W&M Students Demand Action, which helps raise awareness for issues of gun violence. Megan also worked as a co-teacher for the American Bosnian Collaboration at W&M, partnering with Bosnian graduate students in education to provide a free summer camp for young students in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Megan is originally from Sterling, Virginia, but she is very excited to learn more about the Roanoke area through her work with Renovation Alliance. She will be helping the organization establish a home review system for the critical home repairs they provide for low-income homeowners. 

Sarah Moniz

Project: Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless Data Evaluations VISTA
Host site: Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition (TJACH)

Sarah is a Virginia native, born and raised in Fairfax County. She attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. During her senior year, she took an internship at a local nonprofit. The non-profit provided early childhood education and other services to an otherwise underserved community, as well as a weekly farmers’ market that accepted SNAP benefits and offered free food to those in need. This experience was eye-opening and sparked Sarah’s passion for giving back to her community.

After a long 7-year detour in the corporate world, Sarah decided it was time for a change. She wanted to do meaningful, fulfilling work like she had done at the nonprofit in college. This is what led her to apply for the Americorps VISTA position at TJACH in Charlottesville. Sarah has always loved Charlottesville for its natural beauty, small town feel, and, more recently, increasingly progressive approach to social justice and welfare. She is very excited to be living there and working with some incredible local organizations.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys writing, drinking coffee, doing yoga, and being outside. She plans to take full advantage of all the outdoor activities Charlottesville has to offer (like hiking with her 85-pound Mastiff mix, Luna). She is not sure yet what she will do after her VISTA service, but she plans to spend the next year trying and experiencing as many new things as possible, with the goal of finding her passion and path in life. 

Elizabeth Munyan

Project: Maggie Walker Community Land Trust Data Analyst VISTA
Host site: Maggie Walker Community Land Trust

Elizabeth Munyan is originally from Richmond, Virginia. She attended Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina where she studied History and Anthropology. After graduating from Guilford, she served with AmeriCorps NCCC in Vinton, Iowa. Her projects with AmeriCorps introduced her to the housing and urban development field and inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. Following her planning studies, Elizabeth worked as a historic preservation planner in San Francisco after graduating from UVA. During this time, she continued to follow her interests in community land trusts, housing cooperatives, and tenant advocacy.

Elizabeth has been passionate about community land trusts since studying them in school and is excited to apply theory to practice in her VISTA placement with the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust. Elizabeth’s hobbies and interests include ceramics, fishing, yoga, food justice and permaculture.

Ivony Kennedy

Project: Bay Aging Community Housing Strategist VISTA
Host site: Bay Aging

Ivony Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Economics from Indonesia. Ever since she was a young girl through her church, Ivony’s passion has been volunteering to serve others. She survived a fire incident that profoundly changed her life and since that moment, she decided to expand her volunteerism through AmeriCorps VISTA and Red Cross.

Working together with Bay Aging, Ivony hopes to elevate people’s lives; eradicating homelessness by providing housing opportunities and program opportunities for low-income families, older adults, and people with disabilities.

Ivony lives in beautiful Middlesex County with her U.S. Army Reservist husband, two gifted children, and a red mini dachshund. In her spare time, she loves to listen to country music, try new foods (especially spicy ones), bake cakes, and read manga.

Alyssa Nelson

Project: Carpenter’s Shelter Program Data Analyst VISTA
Host site: Carpenter’s Shelter

Alyssa grew up in the Roanoke Valley of Southwest Virginia and moved to Virginia’s capital city of Richmond to pursue an undergraduate degree in Political Science. She is currently a Master of Public Policy Candidate at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government with special interests in Social Welfare and Urban Affairs. Her interest in serving at the Carpenter’s Shelter comes from her time living in cities where the increased cost of living and gentrification displaced many low-income families. After completing her Masters’ she aims to apply for the Presidential Management Fellowship and work within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Alyssa’s hobbies include painting, crafts, and refinishing furniture. 

Alana Allbritton

Project: SJV Homeless Services VISTA
Host site: St. Joseph’s Villa (SJV)

Alana is a recent graduate of Christopher Newport University where she studied Computer and Information Science.  While working towards her degree, she served as a Bonner Scholar: helping community partners and nonprofits in the Hampton Roads area. With over 2,000 hours in project programming, capacity building and youth development, she hopes to combine these skills with data analytics to support St. Joseph’s Villa as an Americorps VISTA member.

Jordan Wyner

Project: Manufactured Home Project Coordinator VISTA
Host site: Manufactured Home Community Coalition of Virginia (MHCCV)

 Jordan Wyner will be serving as the Project Coordinator VISTA for the Manufactured Home Community Coalition of Virginia (MHCCV). At university, he focused his studies on German and modern urban history. After graduating in 2019, he worked as a US Teaching Assistant through Fulbright Austria for two years. During that time, he supported school staff by teaching middle and high school age students of diverse backgrounds about American history, culture, and society. Jordan looks forward to applying his experience as a volunteer community organizer in his home of Los Angeles to empower residents in mobile homes to improve their material conditions. He hopes that his efforts will lay a sustainable foundation for MHCCV to help tackle inequality in Central Virginia’s manufactured home parks. 

Beckey Huddleston

Project: SCDHC Program Development VISTA
Host site: Southside Community Development & Housing Corporation (SCDHC)

Beckey Huddleston is from right here in the RVA, calling Chesterfield County home.  She rescued her first creature in need (a lost puppy) when she was in the third grade and realized the satisfaction of helping others at a very early age. She earned a BS in Social Work from Longwood College and worked in federal service for a few years until reconnecting with her passion working with adult and child survivors of violent crime. She has been a public servant in local government court systems for many years. Many of the people Beckey served struggled with some sort of housing instability and she found this common thread to be a challenge to address through the victim services lens even with strong coordination through allied partners providing supportive services. The realities of persistent poverty and its long-reaching effects in the community inspired her to action in a bold crossover transferring her skills into affordable housing poverty alleviation work. The VISTA service opportunity with Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation is her first dive into the non-profit sector. She’s excited for a chance to deepen ties to the greater Richmond community, make a lasting impact by reducing poverty and further increasing access to affordable housing all while soaking in the knowledge and wisdom of seasoned housing partners who are empowering our neighbors and bettering communities.

In her spare time, Beckey enjoys spending time with her family, sitting by the ocean, visiting with friends, reading paper books and snapping pictures. She enjoys eating and cooking foodie-food and trying new wines with her best friend and husband.  Her son is currently working at Spring Run Vineyard, a local boutique winery, and holds aspirations in performance auto racing. Her Ring Dog Rescue dog, Tug, is 110 pounds of lap dog/human who fills life with antics, giant dog smiles and Chewbacca-like dog-speak every day. Her all-time favorite pastime is taking in a breathtaking landscape.

Nicki Harris

Project: AHC Inc Grants & Communications VISTA
Host site: AHC Inc.

Through the Virginia Housing Alliance VISTA program, Nicki will be serving with AHC Inc., an affordable housing non-profit based in Arlington. Nicki graduated from Carleton College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota. She ultimately hopes to go back to graduate school and pursue work in urban planning. She is excited to learn more about the ins and outs of affordable housing and the additional support services available. In her free time, Nicki enjoys cooking, running, and bar trivia (especially if they have popcorn). 

Olivia Samimy

Project: Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Training, Development, & Equity VISTA
Host site: Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC)

Olivia Samimy is spending her AmeriCorps VISTA year working with Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission. She is from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and recently earned her Bachelors from Roanoke College with a major in English and a minor in Communications. She is excited to spend her VISTA year learning more about housing first policies and racial equity in the organization. After her VISTA year, Olivia hopes to continue her education by obtaining a Masters degree. In her free time, Olivia can be found reading, baking, or spending time with her chihuahua. 

Joel Bernstein

Project: DHCD Eviction Prevention Specialist VISTA
Host site: VA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)

Joel grew up in Seattle before moving to Virginia to attend UVA, where he graduated in 2021. In Charlottesville, he majored in economics and history, the latter of which focused on African American history and its relationship to capitalism. He applied to work with the DHCD on eviction prevention because it combines a complex economic challenge with the mission of providing every Virginian their right to housing. The opportunity to work on the Virginia Eviction Reduction Pilot (VERP) is an especially appealing feature of the VISTA position. Joel is excited to be a part of finding creative and effective methods in reducing eviction rates across the state. After completing his year as a VISTA, he plans to go on and earn a master’s in public health. His hobbies include playing with his dog JoJo, cheering on his beloved Seattle Mariners, and cooking often.

Our VISTA host sites

Homelessness Services Cohort

VISTA members promote permanent housing solutions to end homelessness by building strategic partnerships that advance efforts to end homelessness, improving data quality and use in decision-making, and engaging in special initiatives to end homelessness. 

Locations:

Affordable Housing Cohort

VISTA members develop resources to increase development capacity and enhance organization stability by promoting the best practices in affordable housing development, improving data quality used for decision making, and enhancing community engagement.

Locations:

FAQ

VISTA Members are placed and work on-site to build capacity at VHA VISTA host agencies. Prospective VISTA host sites must be Virginia Housing Alliance members (or become members if accepted to the program). Examples of eligible agencies include community action agencies, Continuum of Care/Local Planning Group, nonprofit housing developers, planning district commissions, homeless service providers.

The VISTA is a volunteer receiving a living stipend through a federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The VISTA is regarded as a federal employee for limited purposes. The VISTA is affiliated with Virginia Housing Alliance, the host site, and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program. This VISTA will carry the title of VHA AmeriCorps VISTA Member and indicate that they are serving with your agency.

The VISTA program is focused on providing support for organizations by placing VISTA Members to create, expand, and strengthen systems, and build structure and collaboration that will allow the host site agency/community to partner with regional stakeholders and better expand affordable housing opportunities in their communities. The VISTA host site organization is making a commitment to improving its effectiveness and sustainability and to stand behind the VISTA’s capacity-building role.

VISTA Members will be recruited in a collaborative fashion. Host sites will recruit locally for VISTA applicants through their own networks. VHA will recruit through statewide networks. VHA works with CNCS to post the official AmeriCorps position listing for nationwide recruitment. All VISTA applicants must fill out an official online AmeriCorps application to be considered for the position.

For any questions related to the VISTA program, please contact: Hannah Moore / AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager

Awardees

The Virginia Housing Alliance wants to congratulate two of our VISTA members, Sophie Schectman, currently serving at Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, and Jordan O’Hanlon, formally a VHA VISTA that served at Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, for winning 2021 Virginia National Service awards for their dedication to service and impact on their communities!

Virginia AmeriCorps VISTA Member of the Year

Sophie Schectman

Maggie Walker Community Land Trust 2019-2021

Sophie is in her second year of the VISTA program with Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT). Her interests in affordable housing and social justice developed while growing up in Charlottesville, VA and attending The University of Virginia. At UVa, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Urban and Environmental Planning and spent much of her time participating in student-run social justice organizations. She was a part of various campaigns including those fighting fossil fuel extraction in Virginia and protesting the white supremacist activity at UVa and in Charlottesville. Additionally, she co-founded the School of Architecture’s Wellness Committee to promote mental health wellness through interdisciplinary collaboration and design thinking workshops. Sophie was excited to join AmeriCorps VISTA to gain experience in affordable housing development with an emphasis on alternative community-driven models.

As a VISTA, Sophie has primarily worked with homebuyer applicants, helping numerous individuals and families complete their applications for homeownership. She has fleshed out the Salesforce data system, and produced reports and analyses to assist in organization decision making. She aided in research and development of MWCLT’s pilot lease-to-own program, which provides a bridge to homeownership for applicants facing credit and savings barriers. She was proud to see the first 3 participants sign leases last fall. Her other work includes the development and implementation of MWCLT’s inaugural strategic plan, facilitation of internal racial equity dialogues, the design and creation of Richmond Land Bank (RLB) and MWCLT yard signs, as well as outreach to RLB lot neighbors. Sophie hopes to build on the experience she’s gained with MWCLT as she pursues a career in the affordable housing field.

AmeriCorps Alum Award

Jordan O’Hanlon

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation

Jordan began her role as a Resident Services Coordinator after her AmeriCorps VISTA service was completed at Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC). In this current role, she has coordinated the distribution of more than $700,000 in rent assistance, managed the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program, and assisted in raising more than $100,000 for the organization’s COVID Resident Assistance program. Her efforts have ensured that Virginia residents are able to remain in their homes, bringing some peace and security to hundreds of our residents that have suffered a number of losses due to the pandemic. Not only did she tackle these projects with success, she has also created multiple key partnerships. These partnerships have resulted in free child car seats, extensive food distribution, and a free bike share program in the community. Additionally, her involvement in the organization’s strategic plan, pushed them to go further in their racial equity goals and strategies. Through her tenure as VISTA, Jordan sharpened her professional skills but also learned how other organizations work and how we can improve and adapt so we can work more efficiently together.