November: Housing Insecurity
Congratulations to the ABNY Young Professionals November Spotlights of the Month – Seth Bynum, Senior Project Executive – Genesis Companies and Alyssa Nejmeh, Vice President of Transitional Shelters – Institute for Community Living. They both work to provide services and shelter for those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in New York City!
It takes a large community of passionate “housers” who do everything short of moving mountains to get affordable housing built. This community of housers adopted me when I was a college kid who knew nothing about affordable housing development, but knew he wanted to make better places. And I thank that community for giving me the advice, knowledge, and confidence to do what I love; build affordable housing.
Every day I hold my chest up high to say that I not only work for an affordable housing developer, but a black-owned one at that. That is not too common in the New York City community, and I don’t take it for granted and I think it has played a pivotal role in not just what I do, but how I do it.
Talk to everyone you possibly can who works in the field. The work is extremely niche and is very difficult to truly understand by reading a book or getting a degree in it. Every deal is different so every piece of advice or nugget of information you get from anyone you talk to will be different.
If I had to give a moment when I felt the most like a New Yorker, I would have to say it was the first time I ran into someone I played pick-up basketball with on the streets of Astoria, the best pick-up basketball community in the city.
It would not be possible to be in the position I am today without the help of strong mentors and truly having a passion for people. I am now the Vice President of Transitional Shelters at ICL and I oversee 4 shelters. My love for working with human beings that are in need and seeing the need for mental health services is what continues to motivate me.
I am most proud of the work I have done with building my teams in shelters, seeing them grow, and having them share the same sincere care for mental health and homelessness. The word sincere is very important, it makes all the difference in stabilizing people. To hear the stories of our client’s lives is a privilege.
To work in homelessness and mental health you have to look at the small successes. This work takes time. Stabilization takes time. So taking the time to celebrate every win and praising your client for that win is how you stay motivated.
I realized I was a New Yorker when I finally was able to navigate the subway system without Google maps.