I spent this past summer interning with the Florida Housing Coalition, a nonprofit, statewide 501(c)(3) organization which works throughout Florida to further its mission of providing resources to housing advocates across all facets of society to work to achieve quality, affordable housing for all Floridians.
Florida has the third highest homeless population among any state in the nation, which matters for all Florida residents, not just those who are housing-insecure or homeless; which is what makes informing policy makers, advocates, and the general public of the educational, health, and economic benefits that our society gains from access to housing such important work.
Over the summer, I specifically worked with the Coalition’s technical assistants on the Housing and Community Development team, which focuses on utilizing data analytics, project management, and community outreach to assist policy makers and housing advocates to further affordable housing projects and efforts in their communities.
One project I worked on in particular that impacted me was the Coalition’s Home Matters Report, which is compiled by Florida counties and released annually to support the national Home Matters housing affordability campaign. The Duval County Home Matters report was the first paper that I was assigned to compile graphics and preform data analytics for; being a resident of Duval County and not having realized the share of Duval residents who are extremely cost burdened by housing expenses – that is spending over half their income on housing – and even the share of Duval County residents who are currently at risk for losing their housing was quite eye opening to me.
One of the highlights of my experience in the 2019 Social Science Scholars Cohort was an early morning breakfast and discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Economy, a leading scholar on Chinese government and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, that Dr. Mayo and Dr. Taylor had invited me to. Being able to, as an undergraduate student, talk to one of the foremost scholars in one of my areas of study was without a doubt, the most enriching and unique academic experience I’ve had at Florida State.
I am truly grateful for the opportunities that the College’s Social Science Scholars Program has been able to provide me with. The Social Science Scholars Program gave me a supportive network of students, both in my own class and from past cohorts, who I could talk to on a range of issues from involvement on campus to pursuing an undergraduate honors thesis. Not only has this program provided me with the opportunity to further myself both personally and professionally through gaining real world experience in data analytics, but without the Social Science Scholars program, I would certainly not have found myself in an internship that allowed me to apply concepts I learned in the classroom at Florida State to a meaningful cause where I could help further affordable housing advocacy in my community.
Scott Williams is a 2019 Social Science Scholar, pursuing a dual degree in economics and international affairs with a concentration in Chinese and a minor in Russian. Scott will soon begin work on an undergraduate honors thesis in the area of international economics and trade.
The featured image and logo are from the Florida Housing Coalition.