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Discover insights and stories about how community residents are coming together to drive positive change on our most pressing issues.

Member Spotlight: Monica Keel (Housing '23)


Cat Green


June 12, 2024

The housing ecosystem in Boston is complicated–no one could dispute that. Monica Keel (Housing ‘23) has been involved in housing for years, and in this complicated world, she sees resource sharing as key. “In healthcare and housing institutions, there is an assumption that everyone can Google search everything they need, or they’ll be able to call someone they trust to help and that is not the case for many folks,” she says. Monica is both professionally and personally dedicated to sharing those resources, building relationships, and promoting access.

When Monica was in college, she first became interested in housing while taking a course on African American Communities. She learned that “housing as an institution is connected to everything in people’s lives,” and developed a passion for housing as a human right. While she was studying Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis, Monica found the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). In 2020 and 2021, she started as an intern there, and in 2023, she joined them full time as a Municipal Engagement Program Associate.

Monica’s work at CHAPA is all about sharing resources and information. She supports pro-housing coalitions across the state, like the Franklin County Community Land Trust and the YWCA Greater Newburyport Housing Choice Coalition. Different groups have different support needs, but Monica plans and facilitates meetings and events, provides educational resources, conducts outreach, and helps in myriad other ways. This work pays off: “People are being more positive and supportive of housing, and they feel empowered that they are informed enough to speak on these issues,” she says. 

The same learning mindset Monica uses in her work is what brought her to GenUnity. When she joined the Fall 2023 Housing Justice cohort, she wanted to “get a better understanding of the housing issues people are facing in Boston and to make connections…I can say that I accomplished exactly that.” She also uses what she learned in GenUnity in her work, taking the community guidelines and conversation norms to coalition meetings. “I am also reminding myself to make space, take space and especially embracing paradox,” she adds. When she finished the Housing Justice cohort, Monica joined GenUnity as a facilitator for this spring’s Health Equity cohort, where she’s “really enjoyed listening to and learning from my co-facilitators…I’ve learned something from all of them.”

The biggest issues facing Boston, as Monica sees it, are the lack of access to information and resources, and a lack of community. These are connected, and only exacerbated by the displacement of communities from Boston neighborhoods in gentrification. But Monica knows that change is possible, and we can overcome these challenges. She invites us all to keep perspective in this work: “Change may (and does) drag,” she says, “but it is change, and that is important and deserves to be celebrated.”

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