April 14, 2023–OAKLAND, CA
Stephanie Ma is currently in her last semester at UC Berkeley pursuing a BA in Architecture with a triple minor in City Planning, Sustainable Design, and Global Poverty Practice. She is interning with BRIDGE Housing in the Real Estate Development and Business Development teams through Non-Profit Housing’s (NPH) Bay Area Housing Internship Program (BAHIP). Merritt is thrilled to support BAHIP participants as part of Commitment to California, Merritt’s industry support initiative to attract, train, and retain industry professionals.
Stephanie was born in Stockton, CA and raised by her grandparents. At one time, she, her sister, brother, uncle, parents, and grandparents all lived in the same one-bedroom apartment. In high school, her grandparents were evicted and had to move into her uncle’s garage, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Witnessing her grandparents and others in her community experience housing insecurity and crowding fueled Stephanie’s passion for affordable housing development.
When Stephanie started her architecture major, she was initially interested in residential and single-family housing development. From her lived experience and growing interest in affordable housing, she understood that single family homes were not enough to provide housing for everyone in need. Stephanie decided she wanted to put herself in the position to bring more affordable housing options to people.
Stephanie found BAHIP through NPH and felt that working with BAHIP would be a great way to supplement her architecture curriculum, experiences, and interest in affordable housing. BAHIP has been incredibly impactful for Stephanie as she has found both a wide breadth of experiences with BRIDGE as well as a community of passionate professionals.
Stephanie was matched with BRIDGE and has been learning every day. She says “I’m being shown a holistic view of affordable housing that has made an impact on how I approach school and my future work. I can trace what I’ve learned and step out of each day with new knowledge, new skills, and new perspectives.” Stephanie was excited to receive training at BRIDGE and through BAHIP that teaches her and other interns affordable housing terminology and the ability to understand the full scope of housing from financing to construction to development. After 8 months with BRIDGE, Stephanie understands how the team works and has had many opportunities to personally contribute to the work.
The internship has been a great experience and Stephanie feels she has “grown closer with my BAHIP cohort, grown in my work, and am excited to feel connected to an organization and mission.”
NPH and BAHIP have allowed Stephanie to feel even more confident with her work at BRIDGE. “BAHIP makes it a goal to equip interns with skills they need to be successful. Not just technical skills but helping us develop leadership skills, community development, and personal development,” shared Stephanie. The BAHIP program invites alumni back to talk with current program participants. They share their experiences and provide insight on how to succeed wherever you end up post-BAHIP. “It’s inspiring to meet alumni who are currently working in the field. They are interested in why you want to work in affordable housing and show that there is a need for more people in housing,” shared Stephanie.
Stephanie plans to work in affordable housing after graduation and one day return to grad school for a MA in Planning or Real Estate Development. Stephanie can see Project Management as a great combination of her architecture background with what she is learning through her internship at BRIDGE.
Stephanie said, “NPH, BAHIP and BRIDGE are such amazing organizations and opportunities, I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about any aspect of affordable housing to look into this program and apply because it’s such a great learning experience. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to learn, grow, and build connections with and from professionals in affordable housing.”
Merritt is excited for the support Commitment to California provides to programs and future affordable housing professionals like Stephanie!
About Merritt Community Capital Corporation
Merritt Community Capital Corporation is a nonprofit dedicated to our mission to provide equity capital for affordable housing exclusively to California. We do this by partnering with mission-aligned affordable housing developers throughout the state to ensure the most critical communities are developed and maintained for low-income residents. Since 1989, Merritt has created and/or preserved 11,000 affordable homes, through investing over $1.2 billion in 26 separate funds, providing housing for over 29,700 people.