Graduate Degree: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Undergraduate Degree: Williams College
Areas of interest: Affordable Housing Issues
Mentor: Carol Burns, Principal, Taylor Burns Architects
Agency: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Supervisor: Amy Schectman, Director of Transition and Rental Assistance
Project description: For her Rappaport Fellowship, she worked at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on how best to re-house and stabilize homeless families who are exiting shelter. With the transfer of Emergency Assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance to DHCD this summer, plus the grant of several million dollars in stimulus funds devoted to reducing homelessness in Massachusetts, it was a really exciting time to work at DHCD. Specifically, she helped develop a Request for Responses for stimulus funding committed to homelessness prevention and re-housing that the State released near the end of her internship. As a part of this, she researched best practices, interviewed people in organizations currently working on re-housing and stabilization, and helped piece together what resources existed in which parts of the state and where services were most needed. She is excited to continue working on this and with DHCD for her thesis.
Laura says that the Rappaport Fellowship gave her firsthand exposure to housing policy development, sparked her interest in a host of other policy issues, and reinforced for her how remarkable Boston and Massachusetts are. The weekly seminars were each very unique, ranging from Boston’s Sewage Treatment Plant to the Emergency Operations Center. They varied so much, and yet each was fascinating and really taught her about the workings of a city. These seminars were so valuable for her academic experience that she wished she had had the opportunity to go on each and every one before beginning graduate school. Since she could not do so, however, she was so grateful for the opportunities that the fellowship allotted her. Overall, the fellowship was so valuable because of the education, support, guidance, and encouragement that the Rappaport Institute and all affiliated persons provided throughout it.