July 30, 2017 at 10:02 am

Wealth & Poverty | Internship Shows Realities of Housing Insecurity

Kees Vande Stadt at his internship in Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society is a nonprofit organization in East Camden, NJ. he is shown sitting at a desk with two thumbs up.

Kees Vande Stadt at his internship in Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society is a nonprofit organization in East Camden, NJ.

By Kees Vande Stadt ’19
Junior in Geography and Wealth and Poverty Certificate
Intern with Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty

Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society is a nonprofit organization based out of East Camden, NJ, a place where affordable housing and poverty have been and still are major issues.

Saint Joseph’s has been creating affordable housing in Camden since 1985. Not only does the organization construct new homes and/or rehab vacant ones, but it also promotes home ownership, rather than just renting a property. Residents of East Camden and the surrounding neighborhoods can take classes with Saint Joseph’s to gain the knowledge needed when buying a home for the first time.

The society has rehabbed and sold nearly 1,000 affordable homes since its founding and continues to improve the overall condition and image of East Camden.

Kees Vande Stadt, left, inspecting a house with a carpenter.

Kees Vande Stadt, left, inspecting a house with a carpenter.

As an intern at Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society, I have worked on a large variety of projects and tasks; two days are rarely alike.

Some of what I do is composed of office work, such as entering housing and demographic data into databases and designing signs or logos to promote the organization. However, a lot of the work I do is in the field, which I really like.

I go out to see many of the vacant homes that Saint Joseph’s may acquire for rehabilitation, as well as seeing and photographing the homes that they have already completed. I have also conducted block, parcel, and soon-to-be resident surveys of several neighborhoods within Camden.

I like this type of work because I can be immersed in urban neighborhoods affected by poverty, see how within them residents live, and improve the living conditions by working to create affordable housing solutions. It is also a valuable learning experience just by seeing how neighborhoods of a city can be so close together, yet so different.

This experience has really shown me the realities that all too many people face with regards to housing insecurity, but also what can be done about it.

About the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty Internships

Welath and Poverty theme logoOhio University, the newest member of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, awarded three consortium summer internships to OHIO students. Shepherd internships take place across the country and in a variety of settings and fields of service that capture the interdisciplinary nature of the program including business and economic development; child services and education; community action; environmental issues; healthcare; homelessness and social services; hunger; and legal aid for both civil and criminal matters. Interns are paid a subsistence wage, living with other interns to make for a collaborative learning experience in which students engage each other in the issue of poverty, reflecting on the work at their respective agencies and organizations. Students do internships in communities away from their home institutions.

The SHECP membership and internships were made possible through an 1804 grant obtained by Dr. Stephen J. Scanlan (Sociology and Anthropology), Dr. Matthew Layton (Political Science), and Dr. Rachel Terman (Sociology and Anthropology) as well as initial support from the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Health Sciences and Professions.

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