Building A Better Community
Rachel Vaz ’18 says she’s been on track to work in social innovation ever since she first started at UNH. She just didn’t know it at first.
ROC-NH (Resident-Owned Communities, New Hampshire) is a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund that helps residents of manufactured (mobile) homes buy the land underneath them. Doing so “builds value and security in their homes and creates stronger, more vibrant communities,” says Vaz. The ROC-NH team provides funds and technical assistance to help residents transition to ownership and preserve affordable housing long-term.
The ROC-NH team also works to fill vacant lots in these communities and help transform public school modular classrooms into community centers for resident-owned communities.
Vaz and another intern, UNH social work major Chloe Greene ’19, traveled around the state to help technical assistants work with ROCs. They also created a professional development video to help ROC-NH staff gain the trust of the manufactured housing community.
Vaz says she loved that every day is different, and she’s already noticing positive transformations.
“It is amazing to see the change in the resident groups and how they can organize as a community and create a democratic process to own their land together,” she says.
“During our first week, a community in Somersworth received notice that the land under their homes was up for sale,” Vaz explained. "With ROC NH's help, the community's board of directors has been researching the financial and physical conditions of the park to see whether it's possible for them to own their community.”
She described the experience as “eye-opening” and said it will be helpful as she continues on to a career in business administration.
“I am so happy to be interning with ROC-NH at the Community Loan Fund,” Vaz says. “The work is always new and challenging, and because the organization is based on the mission of securing affordable housing, it is very gratifying.”