Student Intern Goes to City Hall to Advocate for Homeless

By schwartzsa | July 1, 2011

Anabel Genevitz ’13, a Sociology major with a minor in Professional Writing, is interning at Project H.O.M.E., a Philadelphia non-profit organization that empowers families and individuals to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty through street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services. The experience is helping her to hone her skills in writing, as well as local advocacy.

“Every day is really different,” says Genevitz. “As an intern for the advocacy department, I can be doing anything from data entry to coordinating rides from shelters to the polls.”

To date, Genevitz’ largest project has been on the Solutions not Citations Campaign, which opposes the City’s Sidewalk Behavior regulations (bill number 110386). Passage of the bill would remove the stipulation of the 1999 Sidewalk Ordinance that requires that an outreach team be present at the time a police officer interacts with a homeless individual. Concerned that law enforcement officers would gain an exorbitant amount of power to cite and arrest persons who are homeless, Genevitz and Project H.O.M.E. gathered approximately 2,000 petition signatures and organized a rally on June 2 at City Hall. Their efforts paid off.  The amendment was carried on June 7.

Genevitz applied for the internship following the on-site volunteer experience she gained in the course Homes, Housing & Homelessness, taught by Alex Otieno, Instructor of Sociology and International Peace and Conflict Resolution. The course merges active community service with the examination of homelessness and extreme impoverishment from a comparative historical perspective. Having particularly enjoyed volunteering at Project H.O.M.E., Genevitz felt that pursuing an internship with the organization was the logical next step.

“Advocacy can be long and tiring work, but it has very direct rewards,” she says. “I work directly with residents and alumni of the Project H.O.M.E. program, and that definitely has to be my favorite part. The philosophy of the advocacy department really involves empowering the individuals to be active citizens. We provide voter registration services and have advocacy meetings once a month to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. I’m from South Philadelphia, and it means everything to me that I can engage with them in making the city a better place.”

In addition to her advocacy role, Genevitz is putting her professional writing skills to the test. She recently published a post on Home Word, the organization’s blog, about a resident who started his own business.

Read Genevitz’ blog post.