Welcome to another edition of our series, A Day in the Life, which will introduce you to HUD employees and highlight the important work they do.
Today, we meet Salima Appiah-Duffell, a Program Analyst in the Management and Occupancy Division in the Office of Public and Indian Housing.
What is your typical day like?
Like many at HUD, my day often involves juggling several different projects. I’d categorize them into three groups: internal collaboration, external collaboration and policy related projects.
I start the day by reviewing my email and responding to any pressing messages, and then I choose the most pressing task and dedicate some time to it.
Today, I spent the morning on a conference call for a public-private partnership that HUD is involved with, called Connect2Compete. Next, I worked on tightening some informative documents on the Affordable Care Act for public housing residents and participated in a conference call on social media for the Father’s Day initiative. In the afternoon, I’ll work on developing material for the next issue of the Public Housing Management newsletter, editing my contribution to the division guidebook, and reviewing a regulatory waiver request from a Public Housing Agency (PHA).
What is the overarching task of your position?
My main task is working on policy related projects for the office of Public Housing, Management and Occupancy Division (PHMOD). Additionally, a large part of my workload is managing external communications for the office. I develop educational materials, like fact sheets, and I am the office liaison to the Web Team. Also, I manage our three division newsletters: EcoWise, Public Housing Management, and The Resident.
How long have you been in your current role?
I have been at HUD just over 3 years. I came in with a wave of returned Peace Corps Volunteers in 2010.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
With the newsletter, I get to hear the great things housing agencies and residents are doing through our programs. EcoWise often highlights the creative methods PHAs are using to make their developments greener and healthier. Similarly, The Resident shines a light on residents purchasing homes or bettering their education through HUD programs. It’s particularly wonderful to learn about the inventive programs PHAs are developing to support residents and the commitment PHAs have to this work. For example, I recently did a story on a Neighborhood Networks center in Daytona Beach that offers a slate of programs for everyone—from kids to seniors. They also found a way to make recording community service requirement information easier, by using Google Docs.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
On occasion, I’ll a get a call from a public housing resident looking for help. If they’re calling us, generally it means that things haven’t worked out at the local level and that they’re running out of time and options. I do my best to provide information or connect them to the right services, but often there’s little I can do for someone, here in DC. Those calls are pretty hard.
Where did you work prior to your position at HUD?
Immediately before being hired at HUD, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi. During my service, I worked as a Community Health volunteer in a rural village three hours south of the capitol. My biggest accomplishment was working with a local women’s group to build an outreach clinic for those who had trouble getting to the local health center. This could be especially difficult during the rainy season, which turned the dirt roads, i.e., all the roads, to mud and lasted for almost five months. The clinic I built with local organizers helped the community, especially the children, maintain their access to health care.
Before the Peace Corps, I was a Communications Intern for several area nonprofits-including the Human Rights Campaign. I also worked at small local newspaper.
I really like my work here, at HUD, because it combines my love of writing with my personal commitment to social justice.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next month for a new edition of A Day in the Life!
April Brown is a Public Affairs Specialist in HUD’s Office of Public Affairs.