This is a guest blog post from VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project (VAHPP) Fellow Tatyana Manning ('16), of Legal Services of Greater Miami in Miami, Florida.
The AmeriCorps VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project (VAHPP) dispatches attorneys and tenant organizers to help save low-income, project-based Section 8 housing from losing their contracts. My job, more specifically, is to enter properties with poor living conditions and notices of non-renewal. I organize the tenants and help them increase capacity by providing them with team-building skills and legal support. I inherited two tenant associations from a prior VAHPP Fellow, and started another on my own. I also preserved an entire building, and organized a lawsuit against a property within the first six months of my Fellowship. Needless to say, I am learning a lot. It was purely by chance that I ended up in Miami, serving at Legal Services of Greater Miami, for AmeriCorps VISTA. I applied knowing I could end up in any of five states, but Miami called and I came running. I applied to serve with VAHPP, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and AmeriCorps. At the time, I knew nothing about housing, but helping the underserved community was something that I had always been passionate about. It didn’t matter what area of law, as long as I was helping people.