AMERICORPS VISTA PROGRAM

Now accepting AmeriCorps VISTA Member applications for the 2022/2023 VHA VISTA service year!

Looking to kickstart your career and gain valuable professional experience in the non-profit sector? Apply today to join the Virginia Housing Alliance VISTA program and serve at one of our 18 Host Sites focused on affordable housing and/or homeless services located throughout the Commonwealth! 

Visit the VISTA Positions tab below to explore all 18 of our available VISTA openings. To read more about the program, please download the VHA VISTA Information Packet. For any questions regarding the application process or the VHA VISTA Program, please contact the VHA VISTA Program Manager, Hannah Moore (hmoore@vahousingalliance.org).

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:
AHC Inc Fundraising & Communications VISTA, AHC Inc., Arlington, VA

AHC Inc. develops affordable housing while helping residents of their communities thrive. AHC offers a wide array of cradle to career educational programs and social services at their properties. These programs help residents build more stable and successful lives. AHC Inc. is looking for a motivated individual to serve as the Fundraising and Communications VISTA to fund the COVID and mission-related expansion of Resident Services programs while showcasing the evolving story, resources, and programs of AHC to funders, partners, and the community at a time of extraordinary organizational change. The VISTA member will work in a collaborative environment. They will focus on researching funders, writing proposals, writing funder reports, and standardizing practices in the GrantHub, a grants management system. The VISTA member will also develop targeted social media and communications campaigns that increase AHC Inc.’s visibility, showcase resident voices, and identify new community partnerships.

AHDC Resident Services Coordinator, Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC), Alexandria, VA

Alexandria Housing Development Corporation (AHDC), whose mission is to develop and preserve quality housing that is affordable while also supporting residents so they may thrive as members of the Alexandria community, is looking for a proactive and driven individual to serve as the Resident Services Coordinator VISTA. The AHDC VISTA will focus on expanding the capacity of the Ready-Stable-Own (RSO) initiative, designed to assist low-income Alexandrians in their journey to secure an affordable home from rental to ownership, by researching best practices, strengthening racial equity across all programs, creating targeted communication strategies, and identifying sources of funding. This vital work of the VISTA member will help identify the needs of the residents, allowing AHDC to provide more efficient and effective services to the community in which they serve.

APAH Community Analyst VISTA, Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), Arlington, VA

APAH’s mission is to develop, preserve, and own quality, affordable places to live, to promote stability and opportunity for their residents, and to advocate with the people and communities they serve. APAH provides apartment homes to more than 2,000 low- and moderate- income households in the DC region. These stable homes are just the first step; low-income families face a multitude of challenges and barriers. APAH’s resident services program provides support and opportunity, in collaboration with community partners. To meet the goal of strengthening resident stability and economic opportunity, APAH’s resident services team proactively seeks to understand resident needs to offer appropriate support and programming. APAH is seeking a detail-oriented, organized self-starter, with strong skills in time management to serve as a Community Analyst VISTA. This individual will develop a community needs assessment framework, also known as a community scan, with the goal of enabling APAH to meet its residents’ needs more effectively and efficiently. By strategically assessing the environments for APAH’s upcoming real estate projects through a community scan, APAH believes it can increase partnerships in new and current jurisdictions, close gaps in service, advance advocacy work, and more effectively meet resident needs.

Bay Aging Community Housing Strategist, Bay Aging, Urbanna, VA

Bay Aging, through its comprehensive transportation, housing, community living and health services programs, is committed to ensuring every neighbor in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula region has a choice and ready access to a range of services to help them remain independent in their home and community as long as they choose. Bay Aging is looking for a motivated and creative individual to use their exceptional interpersonal skills in the role of Resource Coordinator VISTA. The Bay Aging VISTA will establish cohesive coordination across Bay Aging, mainstream public benefits, and local service providers by cultivating partnerships, developing standardized practices, strengthening communication, and sharing best practices that align with family-centered and housing first principles. By developing a strategic and coordinated plan of goals, services, and methods across the local network, the VISTA will ultimately streamline processes in order for Bay Aging and their partners to promote self-sufficiency and more efficiently connect clientele with long-term housing solutions.

DHCD Housing Program Coordinator, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Richmond, VA

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 is looking for a motivated detail oriented individual to serve as the Housing Program Coordinator VISTA to help navigate and coordinate HOME American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, programs, and partnerships. The DHCD VISTA will reduce homelessness by coordinating HOME ARP resources to develop more capacity that helps move households from homelessness to permanent housing. The VISTA will strengthen partnerships between the Continuum of Cares (CoCs), local property managers, and the referral systems that link households experiencing homelessness to permanent housing, supportive services, and assistance. They will create needs assessments, an allocation plan, and design programs that maximize the overall impact of these HOME ARP funds for the Commonwealth.

GWRC Affordable Housing Liaison VISTA, George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC), Fredericksburg, VA

The George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC)  serves as the Lead Agency of the Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care (CoC). GWRC is responsible for encouraging and facilitating local government cooperation in addressing, on a regional basis, problems of greater than local significance, and provides a broad array of planning and support services for the benefit of the nearly 400,000 residents. In 2020, the George Washington Regional Commission partnered with Housing Virginia to complete a Housing Affordability Study and action Plan, which found that one in two renters in the region are cost-burdened, meaning that they spend over 30% of their gross household income on housing costs. GWRC is looking for a detail oriented individual to serve as the Affordable Housing Liaison VISTA to help develop a regional affordable housing planning program. The VISTA will formalize a regional affordable housing approach by hosting stakeholder engagement sessions, developing regional affordable housing action items, and preparing the region for securing the resources necessary to add additional units to the region’s currently limited affordable housing stock.

Habitat for Humanity VA Resource Development VISTA, Habitat for Humanity Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Habitat for Humanity Virginia is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Habitat Virginia recognizes a dire need to help Habitat affiliates expand their capacity to address the lack of access to affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth; however, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to shift their methods of delivering training, education, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to their affiliates.Habitat for Humanity VA is looking for a creative, collaborative minded, detail oriented and motivated individual to serve as the Resource Development VISTA, a role that will identify and develop tools for Habitat affiliates to increase both their capacity and funding, allowing them to serve more families. The VISTA will strengthen Habitat affiliate partnerships across the Commonwealth by leading in the design of a Capacity Building conference, identifying new avenues of funding for Habitat’s loan fund, and developing resources to help streamline services for affiliates. This project plays a vital role in building the capacity of Habitat affiliates so they can develop more quality affordable housing throughout Virginia.

HOPE Multifamily Portfolio Support Specialist, HOPE, Wytheville, VA

HOPE works to break generational poverty through enhanced food security and housing stability. Facing a dire housing shortage and increased need to house individuals experiencing homelessness throughout their region, HOPE is looking for a mission-driven individual comfortable with building and reading spreadsheets and analytical thinking to serve as the Multifamily Portfolio Support Specialist VISTA. The HOPE VISTA member will be critical in helping HOPE achieve their goal of doubling their multi-family housing portfolio while leading the effort to provide more workforce housing in response to 2,500 new jobs coming to Wythe County in 2022-23. The VISTA will support HOPE’s expanding housing portfolio into a possible acquisition of a motel that will act as a shelter with rapid re-housing units, implement new equitable systems and procedures that enhance homeless and rapid re-housing services, incorporate a review of social determinants of health, and research best practices and models for both housing and homeless services.

MWCLT Data Analyst 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 low and moderate-income households. Using the Community Land Trust (CLT) model, MWCLT creates single-family homes that are sold to qualified buyers while retaining ownership of the land beneath the houses. One of MWCLT’s goals is to strengthen their programs to address racial inequities in homeownership. To support this goal, they have developed and launched a number of pilot programs and creative partnerships with local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) and nonprofits to widen their reach. MWCLT is looking for a motivated individual to serve as the Data Analyst VISTA to analyze programmatic data, identify funding sources, and develop strategic outreach plans in order to create new programs and improve existing initiatives at their organization. The candidate need not have experience in data collection, and can expect to also partake in other types of work, such as research, outreach, and policy design as well. Data-centered activities include integrating the homeownership application, as well as other forms, with MWCLT’s front-facing website and their internal Salesforce software, improving their ability to streamline data. The VISTA will also research best practices for Community Land Trusts and improve public participation of the Richmond Land Bank, a program that expands affordable housing by inviting applicants to develop affordable housing on Land Bank-owned properties, through targeted outreach strategies.

Manufactured Home Project coordinator VISTA, Manufactured Home Community Coalition (MHCCV), Richmond, VA

The Manufactured Home Community Coalition (MHCCV) is a nonprofit coalition of housing practitioners, homelessness service providers, legal aid experts, and other advocates committed to improving financial, legal, and material conditions for residents in Virginia’s mobile home parks. MHCCV is looking for a driven individual to serve as the Education and Outreach VISTA in an effort to better prepare and equip MHCCV on their path to building the infrastructure needed for the acquisition and ownership of mobile home parks by nonprofit organizations and resident co-operatives. The VISTA member will help build substantial capacity for MHCCV to continue its evolution from a “start-up” entity to a fully-formed, sustainable organization by fulfilling the following five major goals: 1. Improve and preserve Virginia’s existing manufactured home communities 2. Position MHCCV as the statewide resource hub for mobile home park revitalization 3. Educate and empower residents in manufactured home communities 4. Advance a positive public image of manufactured housing 5. Build sustainability into MHCCV’s leadership, finances, programs, and services.

PHA Financial Opportunity Center & Housing Hub Engagement VISTA, Piedmont Housing Alliance, Charlottesville, VA

Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA) creates affordable housing opportunities and fosters community through education, lending, and equitable development. PHA is looking for a focused individual to serve as the PHA Financial Opportunity Center & Housing Hub Community Engagement VISTA. PHA has established the Charlottesville area’s first Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) & Housing Hub, which opened its doors in October 2021. The FOC & Housing Hub model is an integrated approach to offering services, including eviction prevention and crisis recovery, affordable housing navigation, financial counseling/coaching, employment services, and income support navigation — all aimed at building economic resilience and expanding affordable housing choices for families. The VISTA will build the capacity of PHA’s partner network to engage with and enroll community residents in the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) & Housing Hub, strengthen the mechanism by which community residents can play a constructive role in guiding the operations, and refine tools for assessing the impact of the hub, with a particular focus on evaluation measures centered on the lived experience of community residents.The VISTA will help deliver on PHA’s promise of engaging lower-income community residents, especially BIPOC households, in furthering financial and housing stability.

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

RRRC acts as the lead agency for the Foothills Housing Network (FHN), a Local Planning Group of the Balance of State Continuum of Care. RRRC plays a vital role in supporting housing and homeless response organizations while providing a concerted approach to regional cooperation and planning assistance with program delivery. By analyzing feedback from service providers, community members, and local leaders, RRRC has determined that the region is in need of at least one location in which individuals experiencing homelessness or a housing crisis may complete the Coordinated Entry (CE) intake in-person. RRRC is looking for an organized, driven individual to serve as the Training, Development, & Equity Year 2 VISTA to help develop community partnerships, identify locations for in-person assessments, and seek methods for utilizing FHN data in decision-making and project management on a regional level. The VISTA will focus on enhanced data collection and tracking of Continuum of Care (CoC) projects focusing on disparities in referrals, services, and assistance among folks experiencing homelessness, and implementing Housing First best practices for FHN member organizations using a lens of racial equity. The VISTA will also support efforts by FHN partners to increase public knowledge regarding poverty and homelessness within the region through strategic outreach efforts with a particular focus on racial equity, faith-based, and healthcare organizations.

Renovation Alliance System Analyst VISTA, Renovation Alliance, Roanoke, VA

Renovation Alliance (RA) is a non-profit organization that brings together volunteers and communities to provide free, critical home repairs for low-income homeowners with a priority focus on households with people over 65, individuals with disabilities, veterans and surviving spouses, single-parent households, and homes with small children. One in three homeowners in the Roanoke Valley are housing cost burdened meaning that costly home repairs and maintenance are mostly out of reach. Renovation Alliance provides critical repair services and programs that help these individuals stabilize their home in order to create a living environment that improves their physical and mental health. However, RA does not have a robust system for tracking the impact of their programs on the homes and lives of their clients over time. Renovation Alliance is looking for a motivated, organized, detail-oriented individual to serve as the System Analyst VISTA on capacity building efforts to help establish new and review existing home review systems and data collection tools that quantify the impact of RA’s critical home repair program. These efforts will also include expanding community engagement, partnerships, and funding opportunities for their organization to increase and improve services.

SJV Data Analyst & Communications VISTA, St. Joseph’s Villa (SJV), Petersburg, VA

St. Joseph’s Villa serves as the lead agency within the Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC) for Crater Area Coalition on Homelessness (CACH), and has played an important role in stimulating and facilitating regional collaboration on addressing homelessness. SJV is looking for an organized, detail-oriented and motivated individual to serve as the Data Analyst and Communications Specialist VISTA to help expand the capacity of SJV in effectively and equitably serving individuals experiencing homelessness. The VISTA will work to increase the effectiveness and reach of CACH by enhancing communication strategies to identify and recruit new members while also expanding the community’s awareness regarding available homeless services resources. VISTA must be proficient at utilizing spreadsheets, Microsoft Office Suite, Google Docs, Forms, and Sheets. The VISTA will also collaborate with local agencies, Built for Zero, and Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) board in developing and implementing a plan to end youth homelessness by aggregating critical data, researching similar programs, and conducting a youth Point in Time count.

SCDHC Affordable Housing Development VISTA, Southside Community Development & Housing Corporation (SCDHC), Richmond, VA

SCDHC creates viable, thriving, and sustainable communities while providing residential and commercial development, homeownership education, financial counseling, employment services, and supportive programs to predominantly low-income Black and Latinx families. As the oldest historically Black-led, affordable housing non-profit in Central Virginia, SCHDC has had significant success in advancing Black homeownership and rebuilding disinvested neighborhoods including the rehabilitation/development of 700+ units of affordable homeownership and rental housing for low-income families and seniors. However, considerable investment is needed to provide safeguards against displacement in Richmond’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods and, as a response, SCHDC plans to grow its capacity as a nonprofit housing developer of affordable single- and multi-family units. SCDHC is looking for a passionate, detail-oriented individual to serve as the Affordable Housing Development VISTA to increase SCDHC’s single- and multi-family affordable housing development capacity and improve resident services at each of SCDHC’s rental properties by evaluating data management and collection methods, assisting with fund development, and strengthening community engagement in order to identify service gaps and resident needs.

VCDC Marketing & Communications VISTA, Vibrant Communities Drive Change (VCDC), Richmond, VA

VCDC works to connect communities with human and financial capital that supports locally driven revitalization and is committed to ensuring that everyone in their region not only has access to quality affordable housing, but also to services, programs, and amenities that enhance their quality of life. VCDC is looking for a creative, detail-oriented, collaborative individual with excellent verbal and written skills to serve as the Marketing & Communications Assistant VISTA to develop an internal culture of storytelling that raises VCDC’s profile in order to increase community support and awareness of their affordable housing programs and services, gain new strategic partnerships, and raise equity and other investment to direct to quality affordable housing development.

Homeless Response System Equitable Standards of Care VISTA, Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation, Homeless Services Division, Virginia Beach, VA

The City of Virginia Beach Dept. of ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Housing and Neighborhood Preservation, Homeless Services Division is committed to help house the homeless and prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless. They currently have 8 Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs totaling 270 beds operated by 5 different providers. 68% of households on this prioritization list score for PSH based on an evidence-based assessment tool. It is critical to establish standards of care to promote quality and equitable services across programs to enhance their system’s capacity to strategically allocate resources and effectively reduce the overall number of households experiencing homelessness. Refining standardized practices for service providers will ensure every client receives fair, consistent, and quality care across organizations and programs. The City of Virginia Beach Department of ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Housing and Neighborhood Preservation is looking for an analytical and research-proficient individual to serve as the Homeless Response System Equitable Standards of Care VISTA to develop and operationalize policies and procedures that contribute to a more efficient and client-centered system of service delivery. The VISTA will work to ensure that all standards of service are equitable to effectively identify and eliminate racial and ethnic bias.

VHA Communications & Outreach VISTA, Virginia Housing Alliance, Richmond, VA

The Virginia Housing Alliance (VHA) works to expand housing opportunities and ending homelessness in the Commonwealth through advocacy, education, and capacity building. The alliance encompasses a full spectrum of housing organizations and individuals, offers educational, professional development and networking opportunities for members, a collective advocacy presence, and resource and programmatic support. Every year, VHA hosts two statewide conferences and numerous educational forums to educate housing providers on emerging trends and best practices. VHA is looking for a driven and team oriented individual to serve as the VHA Communication and Outreach VISTA to develop targeted communications strategies that aim to increase membership engagement, identify new funders, and expand VHA’s statewide partnerships. By assessing VHA’s current outreach strategies and membership program, the VISTA will enhance the organization’s ability to share best practices in the affordable housing sector as well as strengthen the housing affordability community throughout the Commonwealth.

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.