December: Housing Insecurity/Homelessness
As we enter the winter months, we recognize that New York City remains in a housing crisis and many New Yorkers are housing insecure or homeless. This December, ABNY is highlighting YPs working to address housing insecurity and homelessness in New York City through social services or policy.
Congratulations to our December Spotlights, Bianca Carter, Trinity Church Wall Street, and Christopher Santarelli, Marino.!
I experienced homelessness and poverty in my childhood. I always understood that deep inequities exist, and they would persist without intentional efforts to change them. I pursued a career in philanthropy, in part, to help steer millions and valuable resources to the families and communities who need them most. Being part of the Housing & Homelessness team at Trinity Church Wall Street has meant that my life has come full circle. I’m grateful that I get to give back to homeless and housing insecure New Yorkers this way. Additionally, serving on the board of Funders Together to End Homelessness has allowed me to support national strategies to prevent and end homelessness altogether.
I’m most proud of the strong relationships I’ve built with the partners I serve. The inherent power dynamic between funder and grantee can make building mutual trust difficult. However, treating prospective grantees with dignity, authenticity, and transparency has made all the difference for me. Grantee partners know that I respect the work they do and advocate on their behalf. Even when funding isn’t possible, those relationships have taught me perspective that has not only allowed me to be a better funder but a better person entirely.
The philanthropic sector is nuanced and navigating a career can be challenging. I advise all newcomers to make sure to ask questions and be patient. No matter how difficult and bureaucratic foundations can be, stick it out. The work is rewarding. Nothing feels better than helping an organization navigate the grant application process then eventually letting them know the grant was awarded. Additionally, jobs tend to be stable, and the salaries are livable. That financial security is hard to come by.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York so I’m a native New Yorker. It became especially apparent to me when I moved to Atlanta to pursue my undergrad degree at Spelman College. My friends warned me that the local public transportation system called MARTA does not run 24 hours. I was completely flabbergasted. I can’t imagine living anywhere but the city that never sleeps.
I work for the strategic communications agency Marino., where I lead a portfolio of real estate services, construction, finance and investment accounts. I first entered the real estate industry as a public relations manager for the real estate services firm Savills and had previously worked in the Christie Administration and political media. In each position, I’ve been tasked with identifying and explaining why certain states, cities, and submarkets outperform others when it comes to attracting new businesses and creating jobs.
I am extremely proud to volunteer with the New York City Chapter of the Community of Sant-Egidio. The global Christian movement is focused on service to the poor, peacebuilding, and prayer. Among other activities in New York, the organization prepares and distributes meals to homeless New Yorkers every Tuesday evening and Sunday morning near Penn Station, Union Square, and Grand Central. Homelessness is something I have witnessed and been troubled by everyday while living in New York, and Sant’Egidio has offered me the opportunity to contribute to an organized, compassionate, and thoughtful movement to help fellow New Yorkers in need.
Find ways outside your day-to-day work to better understand the communities you serve and operate in. This can be done through volunteering with community groups, attending events sponsored by local professional associations, visiting cultural institutions, or even just blocking-off time to walk around neighborhoods you are less familiar with.
I was born and raised in New York but spent four years away for college and a few more immediately after. Upon my return, I’ve found a new appreciation for two things about being a New Yorker. One, I think when the majority of true New Yorkers first meet someone, they are more interested in what this person can tell them about things to do or see in their neighborhood or elsewhere in the city, rather than who they work for. Two, a real New Yorker knows Chicken Over Rice is of equal if not greater importance to the city’s contemporary cuisine than pizza or bagels.