The program, founded in 2015, addresses the state’s issue of affordable housing and helps low-middle income households secure and maintain safe and healthy homes. With a high percentage of Rhode Island’s renters struggling to make ends meet, Accessing Home AmeriCorps members work to assuage these challenges.
As recruitment begins for the 15 member Fall Cohort, NeighborWorks looks forward to a new wave of energetic, resilient applicants who are eager to serve as advocates for low-income Rhode Island families experiencing housing instability.
“The most important thing people gain from joining our Accessing Home AmeriCorps program is a concrete ability to help their communities directly,” said NeighborWorks Accessing Home Program Manager, Joyce Welch. “It’s an incredibly rewarding job. Our members gain extensive experience. Many of our alumni go on to work full time in Rhode Island’s housing field.”
Current NeighborWorks employee, Jessica Nin, served as an Accessing Home member from 2018-2020. Jessica joined the team with all of the resilience and determination required of AmeriCorps members but little professional experience.
“I will never forget the impact that AmeriCorps had on me,” Jessica said. “I came into AmeriCorps a mother of four, knowing I needed some change in my life. Since joining I have overcome so many obstacles. For many years I had wanted to help the community but didn’t know how. Joining AmeriCorps gave me the opportunity to work with other people who also wanted to help. I felt right in place with life.”
Having struggled personally with housing instability, Jessica channeled her own passion for helping her community and worked as part of the NWBRV eviction prevention team during her AmeriCorps service years. Now a full time member of the NWBRV family and HomeOwnership Center, Jessica plans on using the knowledge she gained during her time with Accessing Home to help not only her clients buy and maintain their houses, but purchase a home for her own family.
“I am happy to say that I have found the perfect career that fits with my lifestyle and personality,” Jessica expressed. “I’m honored to now work with a great team at NeighborWorks. I’m able to help and coach others who want to become first time homeowners!”
By delivering services at 10 non-profits and municipal organizations across Rhode Island, Accessing Home AmeriCorps members actively work to alleviate the hardships caused by poverty throughout the state. These services include negotiating payment plans, educating tenants on their rights and responsibilities, helping individuals and families apply for State assistance programs like SNAP and Childcare benefits, and providing financial coaching.
My most memorable moment with Accessing Home AmeriCorps was when I took the pledge to ‘Get things done for America.’ I took it seriously and will keep that pledge in my heart forever. The growth I’ve experienced over the last three years ago shows. I will forever be grateful!”Jessica Nin
Members serve for between 35 and 40 hours per week, earn bi-weekly paychecks and are given access to healthcare coverage. Applicant requirements include completion of a BCI, access to reliable transportation, a high school diploma or GED, and the ability to complete 1700 hours of service over the course of a year.
“I would say the number one thing we’re looking for in our applicants this spring is resilience,” Joyce expressed of the program, which to date has provided housing stabilization services to 1,515 individuals. “It’s hard work. But it’s also incredibly rewarding.”