August 26, 2014

A summer of opportunities and learning

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This summer, I had the opportunity to work at HUD’s Region 1 office in Boston as a Field Policy and Management Intern. Throughout the internship, one of the key things I learned is how interconnected HUD is with other local, state, and federal agencies. I also observed how the collaboration between agencies is tremendously important to improving the lives of the people and families they serve.

Prior to my internship at HUD, I had seen the issue of veteran homelessness on a small scale as an intern with the Department of Veterans Affairs for two summers and by volunteering many times at Operation Stand Down, an annual event held in several parts of the country that provides homeless veterans with food, shelter, clothes, medical services, and other basic necessities. Through these experiences I caught a glimpse of the homeless veterans who need assistance.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s announces the city’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.Now, I am more aware of how the collaboration between agencies helps to bridge gaps between organizations, allowing them to serve and fulfill their goals more efficiently. For instance, programs like the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) and the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness combine forces in order to combat homelessness for our country’s veterans.Recently I attended Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s announcement of the city’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. This initiative asks mayors across the country to pledge commitments to ending veteran homelessness in their communities by 2015 using the power of federal, local, and non-profit resources.

During my time at HUD, I have also had the opportunity to visit several HUD funded construction sites such as the Hong Lok House in Boston’s Chinatown. Hong Lok is a multifamily elderly development that is being transformed from 28 units of affordable housing to 74 new affordable units in an area where the demand for these units is very high. At sites like this I was able to directly see the positive effect that HUD’s funding has on constructing modern affordable housing units. The buildings I visited were equipped with the latest in green technologies—technologies like efficient boilers and energy recovery systems, which work to keep the buildings, their occupants, and the environment in harmony while at the same time saving on energy costs. In addition, I noticed that a great deal of time and effort was spent to insure that LEED requirements were not just met for certification, but were also planned so that these environmentally conscious methods would create long-lived sustainable developments.

My HUD internship has opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of housing, construction, government funding, and HUD’s relationships with various organizations. This internship marks a pivotal point in my life, as a student and an individual. I now have broadened knowledge, and increased interests, that will allow me to look at issues from different vantage points. This acquired knowledge will assist me in my future decisions and goals, as I pursue a career encompassing my interests in housing, the environment, energy efficiency, and making meaningful contributions assisting others.

Brendan is entering his junior year at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Conservation with a minor in Building Construction Technology.

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