AMERICORPS VISTA PROGRAM

Now Accepting AmeriCorps VISTA applications for the 2021/2022 VHA VISTA service year!

Virginia Housing Alliance’s (VHA) VISTA project is a statewide project aiming to develop viable communities by promoting integrated approaches that provide decent housing, suitable living environments, and expansive economic opportunities for low and moderate-income persons. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full-time for 12 months at one of the VHA’s 14 host sites, working to expand affordable housing and end homelessness across the Commonwealth through capacity building efforts, advocacy, and education.

  • About VISTA
  • VISTA Positions
  • 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:
Bay Aging Community Housing Strategist, Bay Aging

Bay Aging, a non-profit formed in 1978, serves the 10 counties of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula of Virginia through three major service divisions: Bay Housing, Bay Health, and Bay Transit. Bay Aging is designated as an Area Agency on Aging, Community Action Agency, and Lead Agency of the Northern Neck Middle Peninsula Housing Coalition. While serving neighbors from all facets of the community, Bay Aging’s services for older adults are critical as four out of the five counties with the oldest population are located in Bay Aging’s service area. The VISTA member will establish a cohesive coordination centered around housing opportunities for low-income families, older adults, and people with disabilities. In addition, the VISTA member will work to expand program opportunities, evaluate growing community needs, propose program enhancements to create efficiencies, conduct marketing and outreach, and eliminate community and agency silos.

Carpenter’s Shelter Program Data Analyst VISTA, Carpenter’s Shelter

Carpenter’s Shelter offers a comprehensive continuum of care through continuous services, aiding the chronically homeless, and sheltering residents throughout their transition back into independent living. They empower clients to address the issues which led them to homelessness and provide them with the tools necessary to achieve lasting independence. The Carpenter’s Shelter VISTA member will work to expand services, improve data collecting methods, and increase developmental capacity by designing data-driven tools to measure programmatic outcomes. The VISTA member will also be responsible for developing, implementing and documenting the systems for Carpenter’s Shelter’s new purpose-built shelter to develop sustainable organizational standards and procedures.

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.

Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care VISTA, George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC)

The George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) serves as the Lead Agency of the Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care (CoC) which serves the City of Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford. GWRC provides oversight and planning support to local efforts to prevent and end homelessness. GWRC’s VISTA will build the capacity of the CoC by developing a sustainable technical assistance system for the community’s homeless service providers to adapt and align services with evolving expectations, evaluations, and best practices. The VISTA will collaborate with the CoC’s homeless service providers to develop a formal system of monitoring and evaluation that identifies areas of need. In order to meet requirements and stay competitive for funding, the VISTA will develop new processes that better align with best practices and expectations of both the CoC and state and federal funders.

Rapidan Regional Training, Development, & Equity AmeriCorps VISTA, Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC)

The Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC) acts as the lead agency for the Foothills Housing Network (FHN), a Local Planning Group of the Balance of State Continuum of Care. The VISTA member will focus on enhanced data tracking and analysis for decision making within the Local Planning Group (LPG), implementing training for FHN member organizations and their employees, to include housing first, case management, and new processes and procedures while using a lens of racial equity, and developing a broader, standardized Access System. The VISTA will also support efforts by RRRC and FHN partner organizations to increase public knowledge regarding poverty, homelessness, and the need for affordable housing within the region through strategic outreach efforts, other organizations with similar missions, and to the general public.

St. Joseph's Villa Homeless Services

St. Joseph’s Villa serves as the lead agency for the Balance of State Continuum of Care for the Crater Area Coalition on Homelessness (CACH). SJV has brought community-wide education, awareness, and inter-agency coordination in serving homeless and unstably housed households. SJV has played an important role in stimulating and facilitating regional collaboration on addressing homelessness. The VISTA member will be making community connections with rural and urban partners to develop outreach programs for those who are in need of homelessness services. This VISTA project will identify gaps in service and inform grassroots organizations the best practices of Housing First. The VISTA will also be instrumental in developing a training schedule/program and implementing performance monitoring policies for the CACH to measure the effectiveness of current services. In efforts to build stronger CACH engagement, the VISTA member will play an active role in the Built for Zero initiative and will work with the newly formed Youth Action Board.

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.