When I first moved to New Hampshire after college, I had an enormous challenge in finding a place to live. Not only was I moving 1,200 miles away from home but according to New Hampshire Housing, the statewide vacancy rate was hovering around 3.2%. Throw in my AmeriCorps VISTA living stipend, student debt, and, at age 22, a very short rental history, and my prospects weren’t great.
This was my first experience with New Hampshire’s many housing challenges. I did eventually find a suitable apartment, a great group of friends, and a love for the state of New Hampshire which led me to job hunt at the end of my year of AmeriCorps service. This led me to CATCH Neighborhood Housing, where I was hired as the Development and Marketing Assistant.
Fast forward six years, and I’m now the voice behind all of CATCH’s social media, newsletters, and communications, which is both a really fun privilege and often an intimidating challenge! I now have a much deeper understanding of the complicated housing challenges in our state. I’m now the Director of Community Relations, where day-to-day I try to help raise the profile of CATCH in our communities and communicate the need for more housing opportunities for families of all income levels. These efforts look different every day, and might include sharing the stories of our awesome residents with presidential hopefuls, planning a ribbon cutting or fundraising event, representing CATCH at a nonprofit fair, talking to foundations and business leaders about our impacts, or helping our neighbors understand the importance of building communities in which each person has a safe place to call home that they can afford.
When I talk to people about what CATCH does, I often share that we try to meet people where their housing needs, and their budget, are. We have developed 325 apartments for low to middle-income renters throughout Merrimack County. In 2012, we renovated the historic Endicott Hotel to create 24 market-rate apartments to offer a convenient downtown option for renters. CATCH is also a member of HOMEteam, a collaborative home-buyer education and counseling program that helps first-time homebuyers purchase their first homes and make good financial decisions related to purchasing, renting, and maintaining a home. In these ways CATCH seeks to support successful renters and homeowners in our communities.
Sharing this message of support and opportunity is a cornerstone of my job. In October 2018 we created the Community Relations Committee, which has been a tremendous help in getting the word out about what we do, strategically leveraging our community events, and using the media and different platforms to engage with our constituents. It’s been incredibly helpful to have industry leaders support our work and really take our communications and organization to a whole new level, and I am so grateful to Bryanna, Kait, Tori, Sue, Suzi, and Greg (and the support of all their networks) for their contributions to CATCH’s success.
In summary, it has been quite a journey in my six years at CATCH as we continue to build our organizations and grow community support for the work we do every day. It is challenging and satisfying to create dialogues and events that help transform our community into one that supports the creation of more high-quality housing for those not being served. I consider myself lucky to work in the housing world, to get to collaborate with so many terrific advocates, and create housing opportunities that our communities need.
Regardless if you’re a CATCH donor, a resident of one of our apartments, a Facebook follower, or just learning about our organization, thank you for your contributions in creating communities where every person can be confident of a home!