Met Council Interns Complete Rewarding Year

Met Council intern Victoria Arakcheyeva, left and Kate Clark. Photo by Ava Farkas.As students of community organizing, planning, and development at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work, Kate Clark and Victoria Arakcheyeva were hoping to secure first-year internships that would promote intersectional justice, have a grass-roots approach to organizing, and strive to make a lasting impact on the lives of the New York City community. 

Met Council on Housing gave them these opportunities and more. As housing justice interns for the past year, Kate and Victoria got a truly grass-roots foundation to organizing. They participated in recruiting volunteers and mobilizing community members, coordinated and planned direct actions in partnership with several campaigns within the larger housing movement, and shared information about tenants’ rights with callers who rely on the Housing Crisis Hotline five days a week.

Victoria, who had previously worked with LGBTQ homeless youth, was exposed to a new realm of New York activism by working closely with the tenant community: “I never knew very much about housing before my time at Met Council—especially the intricacies of stabilized housing and how vulnerable it is now that rent laws have been weakened,” she says. Over the year, she learned about tenants’ rights, and stepped into a leadership role by training new hotline volunteers, supervising calls, and doing training in the greater tenant community. 

Kate, with a background in putting on community social-justice theatre performances, was exposed to new community-organizing skills and traditional coalition-building efforts in her work with the Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale Campaign. In addition to building relationships with Northern Manhattan community members, she was one of the people who initiated a new housing-rights walk-in clinic for Inwood residents, which helped her learn the importance of mutual-aid community support. 

“Being able to share housing information with the tenant community in Inwood was really rewarding,” she says. “Exchanging resources and encourage renters to take action at the clinic also helped me to better understand my own status as a rent-stabilized tenant with preferential rent.”

Met Council’s approach to organizing has given these two women the opportunity to put the theory they learned in classes into practice, and to develop their skills as future social workers while also serving tenants like themselves. They say these skills are crucial foundations for becoming the kind of social workers they are striving to be—skillful, quick on their feet, and deeply compassionate.