Each month, we will be highlighting the amazing staff we have here at THC. This month, I sat down with Terri McFee-Carter, Housing Services Manager, to talk about her life at THC and her goals for 2016.
Tell me a little about yourself. What did you do before you joined THC?
I am Terri McFee-Carter, a native Philadelphian who moved to Washington, DC after I married my husband. I’ve been married for sixteen years and have three great kids.
In my professional life, I have always cared for the well-being of others. I have worked as a therapeutic support worker, pro-social behavior therapist, teacher and case manager. Before joining the THC team, I was a HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)-certified housing counselor for several years. That position helped me fine-tune my approach with clients, colleagues and agency stakeholders. I was learning at a higher level how to effectively provide community service. I’ve also worked for a transitional housing program where I developed programs and facilitated groups for the families. I enjoyed being a housing counselor, but it was more rewarding to see the successful outcomes of working with families experiencing homelessness. With that in mind, I applied for the job with THC and am now back in my desired role, helping families experiencing homelessness.
What keeps you busy when you’re not at the office?
When I’m not working, I mostly enjoy creating new looks within my home decor. DIY is very enjoyable, but not necessarily relaxing! I am a very handy lady and have always had a knack for working with my hands.
How long have you worked at THC? Describe what you do.
I have been with THC since April 2014. I am the Housing Services Manager for THC’s Housing Services department. I have a team of three housing coordinators that facilitate the housing search and leasing process for THC families, and that make sure all who are in referrals are assigned and progressing.
As the Housing Manager, I handle all administrative responsibilities for the department, which includes reports, meetings and staff supervision. Since coming to THC, I have developed referral procedures that have been effectively executed across multiple departments to better serve our families. I have established and facilitated housing-related educational workshops for our families with topics such as: The Basics of Obtaining and Maintaining Housing, Fair Housing, Know Your Rights! and Ten Tips to Becoming a Homeowner. I also communicate frequently with THC program directors and outside stakeholders to be certain THC is current with housing best practices and most effective programs, approaches and requirements to house families. Lastly, one important aspect of my job that I cannot neglect to mention is developing and maintaining our internal landlord contact list that is a valuable resource to the housing team. Many projects are ongoing and constantly changing – it’s important to just remain flexible!
What are the three best things about working at THC?
One of the best things about working at THC is working with a great team of housing coordinators who are ambitious, focused and have an abundant esteem for leadership. I also appreciate that THC has a culture of transparency and encouragement. With transparency comes accountability, which increases everyone’s commitment to helping the families we serve transform their lives. I like that there is a team approach used within the Programs department. Although we all work under different titles and focus on different areas of service, there is always a collaboration period to bring everything and everyone together.
What’s the biggest challenge in working at THC?
The biggest challenge that I face is not becoming emotionally connected to the families’ situations. I have learned that you cannot work harder for a person than they are willing to work for themselves. Change should not be forced, but with the right resources, encouragement and support I believe more progress is made.
What are your goals for 2016, both personally and professionally?
My personal goal for 2016 is to be progressive and encourage positivity. As for an important task to complete in 2016, personally I want to start a vegetable garden in my backyard.
Professionally, my goal is to allow my personal goal to shine through. I will be working closely with our interns to develop a workshop expansion survey. The purpose of the survey is to gather input from our families on what housing related workshop topics they are interested in learning more about. I will add new workshop topics and criteria based on our findings. We aim to have more families participate in workshops this year. This year I will also continue to work with the Interagency Council of Homelessness Subcommittee for Landlord Engagement to develop a citywide database of landlord contacts and available units for the homeless.