By Monique Gibbs
This past spring, I was selected to be a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow, which allowed me to manage two exciting projects for the Housing Innovation Lab at the city of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development.
The projects focused on improving constituent access to affordable housing resources. For instance, I created an affordable housing guide page for the city’s website to help residents understand and find available resources that would fit their individual housing needs. I also developed the framework for a universal affordable housing application system. Working with multiple stakeholders in city government and external partners, I made several policy recommendations that would improve the current affordable housing application process in Boston.
There were many instances throughout the summer where the themes I covered in my courses directly related to my work within the iLab. This past spring, for example, I wrote a research paper, titled “The Greater Boston Metro Region’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Developing for Greater Equity,” for “Techniques of Policy Analysis” with professor Richard O’Bryant. The housing policy knowledge I gained during this class helped me identify key stakeholders as well as the resources needed to meet my project goals. I also utilized the lessons I learned in the “Contemporary Community Development” course, taught by Joe Kreisberg, for a project centering stronger community development partnerships with the city of Boston.
As part of the Rappaport Fellowship, I attended weekly Wednesday sessions during which I was exposed to a complex network of stakeholders that help make Boston a great city. We visited and met with staff at the Codman Square Health Center, Haymarket Vent Building and Fenway Stadium. During each of these visits, we learned how nonprofit, private and government organizations work to provide vital services to the city. Additionally, I met and engaged with a talented cohort of policy and legal fellows from diverse backgrounds and interests.
Through this fellowship, I was paired with two Rappaport alumni mentors, Jessica Casey and Abudar Rahman, who are also SPPUA alumni. They both gave me great advice for succeeding within the fellowship, in my academic program, and finding career opportunities post-graduation. My first full year in Boston and graduate school has exceed all my expectations, and I look forward to seeing where year two will take me.
Monique Gibbs is a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program.