February 2022 Student Spotlight
In this month’s student spotlight we talk with Katrell Lewis, who is taking the Urban Development and Sustainability track of the MPA program. Katrell tells us about his recent promotion at Habitat for Humanity, his Marxe School experience, and more.
How did housing and homeownership become an important facet of public affairs and administration for you?
Everyone deserves adequate housing, but unfortunately, housing has always been a struggle for black communities. My commitment to housing is rooted in history. Black Americans were only granted housing discrimination protection because of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Seven days after the assassination of Dr. King, President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Based on my experience in policy development, I know legislation does not pass Congress in seven days after two years of being filibustered but Congress was shamed into granting Black Americans protections after Dr. King’s assassination . I believe we can do housing better in our city, in our state, across this country, and eventually meet the intent of the Fair Housing Act of 1968- Marxe will help me with achieving that vision.
You recently became Vice President, Government & Community Partnerships at Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester. Congratulations! Tell us a bit about your goals for this role and any challenges you’ve come across thus far.
Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County has a very robust homeownership pipeline and my job will be to ensure the communities in which we are building are aware of these opportunities. Habitat has a saying “we don’t build in communities- we build WITH communities”. As Vice President, I also serve as the organization’s chief lobbyist and I look forward to engaging with the state government to advance homeownership policies in the next legislative session. In January, we will have a new municipal government and I look forward to advocating to new partners the importance of homeownership for low-to-moderate income New Yorkers.
How is your Marxe experience going so far? What have you learned?
I graduated from CUNY College of Staten Island in 2012 so being a student seems foreign to me but I am enjoying my experience at Marxe. It is a pleasure to share my public affairs experience and knowledge in Professor Main’s Introduction to Public Affairs class. My other class is Professor Greene’s Research and Analysis class. I am learning how to evaluate policy through statistics and I extremely enjoy her approach to teaching about his important tool for public affairs professionals.