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AMERICORPS VISTA PROGRAM

Now accepting AmeriCorps VISTA applications for the 2024/2025 VHA VISTA service year!

Virginia Housing Alliance is now accepting VISTA member applications for the 2024/2025 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 17 host sites, working to expand affordable housing and end homelessness across the Commonwealth through capacity building efforts, advocacy, and education. 
Basic requirements for the program include:
  • Be at least 18 years old; no upper age limit
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
  • Pass a criminal history review
  • Meet knowledge, skill, and ability requirements set by the VHA and host site
VHA VISTA members receive the following benefits: 
  • Living stipend ranging from $875 to $1,000 bi-weekly depending on the county in which the VISTA serves
  • 80 hours of sick leave, 80 hours vacation, 40 hours of emergency leave
  • A $7,395 Education Award OR a $1,800 end of service stipend after the completion of their service
  • Up to $500 for out-of-pocket moving expenses and a relocation allowance if traveling over 50 miles when relocating to the Host Site
  • Healthcare and childcare benefits
  • A two-day Virtual Member Orientation
  • Non-Competitive Eligibility upon successful completion of program
  • Quarterly VISTA trainings focused on homeless services and affordable housing topics services and affordable housing topics
  • Sponsorship to attend VHA Conferences and forums for networking and educational opportunities
  • Access to National Grant Foundation classes and a subscription to Coursera
  • And much more…!

Interested applicants must apply directly to the Host Site opening on the AmeriCorps portal (VISTA Positions Tab Below). We are currently accepting applications for VISTA member positions with a start date of August 12, 2024.

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.

To read more about the program, download the 2024_2025 VHA VISTA Openings Document.

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 Member 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 2014, our VHA AmeriCorps VISTA project has supported homeless services and expanded affordable housing by:
  • Recruiting 1,190 community volunteers;
  • Leveraging $7.1 million in cash resources (grants, fundraising, etc.);
  • Providing capacity building services to 925 organizations across the Commonwealth;

  • Raising $681,549 in in-kind resources to support housing insecurity programs;

  • Supplying high-level professional development opportunities in order to grow the next generation of housing leaders (24 of our VISTAs have been hired by their host site);

  • 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:
Community Services Housing Resource Development Lead VISTA, Community Services Housing, Charlottesville, VA
Community Services Housing (CSH) develops, owns, and operates clean, safe, affordable housing for people in Charlottesville living with disabilities. The unique value of CSH is its deep commitment to resident-focused housing for people with disabilities with low incomes, combined with its expertise navigating the complex financing and compliance requirements necessary to create and sustain these essential community housing opportunities. CSH is looking for a detail oriented individual to act as the Resource Development VISTA member with the goal of strengthening CSH’s ability to better serve people in Charlottesville living with disabilities, providing folks with high-quality, low-barrier, affordable, responsive, and stable homes. The CSH VISTA member will improve equity in CSH’s training, policies, and procedures, research and implement best practices in housing for people living with disabilities, and increase awareness about CSH for fundraising, community engagement, and board development purposes.
Lighthouse Beloved Community Land Trust Communications Strategist AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Lighthouse Beloved Community; Lynchburg, VA
The FARRR Foundation, Inc., affectionately known as “The Lighthouse” was established in 2004 by a first-generation Asian-American. At the core of this work is the evidence-based wraparound approach to demonstrate that within the concept of a trauma-resilient community healing occurs. Many of the families that receive services at The Lighthouse live in the formerly red-lined 24501 zip-code. Individuals are medically marginalized and trapped living in unsafe, decaying homes built in the 1930’s era. Over the past three years, 90 acres of land has been acquired in this district and the land is deeded into a Community Land Trust (CLT). Lighthouse Beloved Community Land Trust (LBC CLT) will offer affordable ownership of new sustainable, net-zero housing. No other program exists in the City of Lynchburg that preserves the affordability of home ownership and promotes the wraparound reach that The Lighthouse delivers. FARRR Lighthouse is looking for a detail-oriented individual to serve as the Lighthouse Beloved Community CLT Communications Strategist VISTA with the goal of increasing the awareness of the newly established CLT by developing outreach campaigns, creating surveys to involve the community in decision making processes, and expanding capacity by implementing more efficient systems and procedures.
Lynchburg Housing Outreach & Outcomes Strategist VISTA, Lynchburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority (LRHA), Lynchburg, VA
The Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority (LRHA) mission is to maximize housing opportunities by being a leader in community redevelopment, by revitalizing neighborhoods, and by promoting economic growth and development through collaborating with organizations and the greater community to achieve clean, comfortable, attractive, affordable housing maintained in a manner that fosters pride and dignity. LRHA is looking for a driven and organized individual to serve as the Outreach & Outcomes VISTA . They will create a communications strategy to increase affordable housing awareness in the region while also improving public housing outcomes by developing needs assessment surveys, aggregating the received data, and researching partnerships, programs, and services to address the findings.
Community Land Trust Housing Eligibility Strategist VISTA, Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT), Richmond, VA
Maggie Walker Community Land Trust (MWCLT) seeks to develop and maintain permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for households experiencing low to moderate income. The VISTA will focus on enhancing the homeownership program by improving data collection, analysis, and data management systems. This also includes evaluating current processes to address barriers in homeownership. Utilizing existing data, the VISTA will create reports and visualizations that support and inform staff in the decision making process. The VISTA will also collaborate with the MWCLT team in identifying new funding streams, partners, and creating outreach campaigns strategically focused on increasing awareness of the CLT model as a road to homeownership.

VISTA Cohort 2023-2024

Leah Coltrane

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

 Leah successfully obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Film with an accompanying Minor in Social Justice from Hollins University in May of 2022. During their time studying, they gained significant experience in outreach and mentorship through a variety of roles. Some of those roles include the following: Hollins Activity Board Member, Hollins Film Department Equipment co-Coordinator, Hollins Summer Programming Community Assistant, and Committee Member for Hollins University’s 13th Presidential Inauguration. Leah has coordinated events and outreach, designed education and action campaigns, reported to administrative professionals and diverse constituencies, and led new community member orientations. MWCLT attracted Leah’s enthusiasm due to the organization’s efforts to create more housing opportunities for families in Virginia. In their time off, Leah hopes to explore Richmond’s diverse restaurants, enjoy exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and spend time at local theaters.

Xzavia Corvington

Project: Housing Resource Development VISTA
Host site: Community Services Housing

Xzavia began her career with the United States Marine Corps, gaining unparalleled experience in the electronics technician space, while also establishing herself as a respected community service/engagement leader. While her time in the Marine Corps has taken her coast to coast, Xzavia is proud to call Culpeper, Virginia home.

As an electronics technician turned family services/volunteer coordinator, Xzavia has developed a unique perspective when it comes to serving the needs of the community. Xzavia’s passion for helping others can be traced back to childhood, where she spent significant time helping care for her sick grandfather. Influenced by her mother and her passion for helping others, she aspires to continue to help bridge the gaps within the communities she serves in the next stage of her career.

Xzavia has been honored with an Outstanding Service Award for her contributions to Planning District 16 Juneteenth Planning Committee. In her free time, Xzavia enjoys spending time outdoors with her son, Miles, planning and attending numerous community service/engagement events, youth engagement, arts & crafts, music concerts, amusement parks, and overall enjoying life to the fullest.

Bec DeLaura

Project: Affordable Housing Liaison VISTA
Host site: George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC)

Bec DeLaura is a recent graduate of a Masters of Urban Planning and Policy program. Their interests include accessibility and equity, with a focus on affordable housing. Before this position, they have spent time working for nonprofits and government agencies. In their spare time, they like to read, go for walks, and be with friends.

Elizabeth Kondzella

Project: Community Land Trust Communications Strategist VISTA
Host site: The Lighthouse

Elizabeth Kondzella is a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, where she majored in Anthropology and Historic Preservation— studying culture and object -based history. Before Fredericksburg, she lived in Chesapeake, Virginia with her family. She’s super excited to move to Lynchburg and cannot wait for the VISTA year to start officially; there’s so much to learn and so many people to get to know! What originally drew her to VHA’s Americorps program was the ability it provided to both learn more about affordable housing, something she is very passionate about, while also helping to make a difference in the community.

In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys sewing— her latest project includes a bright pink Barbie movie-viewing outfit— and is planning on making a t-shirt quilt out of college t-shirts next. She has undertaken various crafting hobbies (knitting, crochet, embroidery), and describes herself as a sort of jack of all (crafting) trades, master of none, but that’s the way she likes it! She also enjoys reading but often finds it difficult to make time for. Her favorite books are This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (fiction) and The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (nonfiction). She will take any excuse to talk about either of these books!

One of the main goals Elizabeth has for this upcoming year is to make as many connections— with VHA, with her host site, and with Lynchburg residents generally— as possible. As a transplant from Fredericksburg, she is looking forward to becoming a part of the Lynchburg community. Additionally, she aims to spend the year learning about community/nonprofit organizing and housing in Virginia.

 

Zach Filtz

Project: Resource Coordinator VISTA
Host site: Bay Aging

Zachary W. “Zach” Filtz will be serving as the VISTA Resource Coordinator in coordination with the Virginia Housing Alliance. He will be serving at Bay Aging in Urbanna, Virginia. Zach enters this term after seeing the struggles of people after working on a string of political campaigns. After having previously run for office and coming to better understand the mantra of serving people through those experiences, he knew he wanted to continue “serving people” in some capacity.

 

He graduated college in 2016 with his Bachelor’s in English with the Journalism concentration from California University of Pennsylvania, but due to lack of demand for newspaper writing, he pivoted to working on political campaigns after writing short news articles for a nearby paper for a while after moving to VA.

Zach enjoys seeing tangible results from helping people. This is especially true when it comes to serving neglected communities.Zach chose this site because he enjoys helping people maintain housing security. He was moved after viewing Bay Aging’s video about them helping a client move out of her house due to such severe conditions that snakes had moved into her bedroom. Zach hopes that this term of service will give him valuable hands-on experience in the human services field.

Originally both from near Pittsburgh, Pa., Zach has lived in rural King George County since 2017 with his wife, Shannon, and their cat, Charlie. He enjoys serving rural communities, reading nonfiction, cars, watching drive-in movies and participating in weekend trips with his wife as well as with friends.  He has previously served on the L.E. Smoot Library Board of Trustees, and has volunteered with various VBS games programs at his church, as well as litter pick-up events in the county as well.

Josh Lobner

Project: Financial Opportunity Center & Housing Hub Community Engagement VISTA
Host site: Piedmont Housing Alliance

Josh was born in Chicago, IL, but grew up overseas. He is a recent graduate from the University of Richmond, where he majored in English, with minors in Rhetoric and Data Science. He developed an interest in housing while working for the University’s Digital Scholarship Lab, where he assisted with a project that analyzed the present-day effects of redlining all throughout the United States. Josh is excited to be spending the year with the Piedmont Housing Alliance in Charlottesville, hopefully finding some direction for his future education alongside his work as a VISTA member.

Soleil Pantophlet

Project: Resident Services VISTA
Host site: AHC Inc

Soleil was born and raised in Fairfax County and is excited to be back in the Northern Virginia area serving her community. She is a recent graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University where she majored in International Studies with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. Throughout her studies Soleil learned significantly about inequity within our communities both domestically and abroad. Soleil was drawn to the Virginia Housing Alliance’s AmeriCorps VISTA program as she saw it as a great opportunity to put her passions and knowledge into practice. She’s excited to be supporting her host site’s mission over the next year in combatting local housing instability and creating thriving communities. In her free-time, Soleil is a huge foodie and is looking forward to trying new restaurants in the area.

Chris Ricigliano

Project: Quality Assurance VISTA
Host site: Arlington Partnerships for Affordable Housing

Chris was born in Virginia in 1999. He concluded his studies (for now) at UVA where he studied Psychology and Computer Science. A calling to serve others led him to VHA and hopes to one day work in disaster relief. A passion for writing and game creation has led to writing several of his own games. His favorite book is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. 

Davy sell

Project: Regional Affordable Housing VISTA
Host site: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

Davy Sell (she/her) will be serving as the Regional Affordable Housing VISTA for Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC). While she currently lives in Richmond, VA she is excited to return to work in Charlottesville, where she got her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Psychology and a business certificate from the McIntire Business Institute in 2016. After graduating she worked in residential mortgage lending with a focus on first time homebuyer specialty programs and grant opportunities for 5 years and supported over 300 families in accessing housing. She has now pivoted her career focus towards a more data-driven role to support affordable housing initiatives and policy.

As of August 2022 she is pursuing a master’s degree in Data Analytics & Policy with a concentration in Geospatial Analysis at Johns Hopkins University to develop her ability to identify where there is a housing-based need in a locality, assist in implementing the solutions for that need and prepare analyses and evaluations of program outcomes. She is hoping to begin that work with TJPDC by supporting the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership (CVRHP) in their creation of tools and resources to secure housing accessibility and stability.

Matthew Tobias

Project: Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Training, Development, & Equity AmeriCorps VISTA
Host site: Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Comission

Matt is a huge Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fan, history buff, and “bug whisperer.” He’s lived in Northern Virginia almost his entire life and is proud to call Loudoun County home. Matt graduated with a BA in history from BYU and enjoys talking with others about the impact of historical and current events. When he isn’t busy volunteering with his church, he likes to watch movies and episodes of Alias, spend time with family, read, listen to music, play strategy games, share links to funny YouTube videos, eat out at restaurants, and catch up with friends.

At his core, Matt is passionate about human and civil rights. He cares deeply about the welfare of the LGBTQ community, which motivated him to volunteer with the Trevor Project to assist LGBTQ youth. Utilizing this experience, he desires to better understand and aid other marginalized groups who are struggling. One of the aspects of the RRRC VISTA project that stood out to him was the chance to help address racial and other inequities that exist in finding affordable housing. Matt strongly believes all people should have access to basic needs like housing and medical care, and he is excited to be part of a team that seeks to make this a reality. 

VAISHNAVI VISVESWARAN

Project: Community Development Associate VISTA
Host site: Housing Alexandria

Vaishnavi Visveswaran is a Fairfax native and a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington, with a BA in Sociology. Armed with the sociological imagination, she is passionate about social equity and taking care of the world around us. In her free time, Vaishnavi enjoys art, volunteering at the animal shelter, and picking up hobbies impulsively.

Mike West

Project: Habitat Resource Development VISTA
Host site: Habitat for Humanity of Virginia

Michael West is a retired academic researcher and policy/program analyst, focused primarily in disability services for youth and adults. He has assisted non-profit organizations with pursuing grant funds and conducting project evaluations as either 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 had satisfying experiences when working/volunteering with housing and employment services for homeless veterans. Finally, he is a wheelchair user, and the VHA program and H4HVA listing has specific project descriptions in evaluation and monitoring that could be performed with accommodations. Mike is a 2nd year VHA AmeriCorps VISTA, having previously served at the George Washington Regional Commission in Fredericksburg.

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.