This summer, Cristian Cedacero ’12, Sara Helmer ’13, Elizabeth Marder ’12 and Samuel Smukler ’12 are dedicating their time and efforts to bring fair housing into a clear and comprehensive light. The four will serve as interns with the Geneva Human Rights Commission (GHRC) in downtown Geneva. From their office on Seneca street, the students and recent graduates will work to implement the second phase of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Resources Center, which the GHRC hopes to create within the next few years.
Helmer, a psychology major, is excited about the opportunity. “Looking at Geneva – and at our country – it’s hard not become interested in fair housing,” says Helmer. “You can physically see the spectrum of how people live.”
Helmer and her fellow interns hope to provide more information to the community through their work at the GHRC, developing a center that would provide information on fair housing rights and obligations specifically tailored to the city of Geneva.
In the first phase of developing the center, Smukler and Marder – along with a group of classmates in Professor of Sociology Jack Harris’ Sociology Senior Seminar -gathered a strong foundation of data regarding the new federal Equal Access to Housing regulation through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD ensures that housing and programs are open to all families, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Now entering the project’s second phase, the interns will take the data collected and solicited from various sources across Geneva and assess the amount of knowledge community residents have regarding housing and what is granted to them through the government. Once the data is analyzed, a guidebook will be created to fit the needs of Geneva residents.
For recent graduate Cedacero, who earned his bachelor’s in sociology, this internship is an extension of his steadfast dedication to the community. Cedacero has been heavily involved in the Community Lunch Program among other Geneva volunteer initiatives. “This project is a wonderful opportunity to do more for Geneva before I leave for the Peace Corps,” says Cedacero, who will depart for Sub-Saharan Africa in the fall.
Smukler, who received dual degrees in sociology and Asian studies, interned at the GHRC this spring through Harris’ sociology seminar. “This is a project that I’ve been working on and dedicating my time to since the beginning of the year,” says Smukler. “I am able to continue doing something that is meaningful to me and truly good for the city of Geneva.”