Wayne State MSW graduate working to secure fair housing for Michiganders

After completing her undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Wayne State University, Dana Paglia-King decided to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) and will soon be walking across the stage at Winter Commencement on December 16th.

Dana Paglia-King in her regalia“I focused on the Innovation in Community, Policy and Leadership (I-CPL) track with an emphasis on policy as I believe there is a need for more social workers involved with legislation, policy decisions, and holding elected offices,” Paglia-King said.

During her studies, she completed a two-year field placement at the office of State Senator Stephanie Chang.

“Because of the two-year duration, I was able to experience so many components of political social work and what it’s like to work for an elected official who is also a social worker. I attended countless block club and community organization meetings and events, worked with many constituents to help them connect with resources, canvassed and saw the background of the campaign scene, and spent days in Lansing researching legislation and observing Senate committee meetings,” she said.

For the past five years, Paglia-King has worked for the Community Housing Network (CHN), where she advocates for those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, and who are at risk of becoming homeless.

“It has been both challenging and rewarding – but it is important work that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. I believe housing is a human right, and CHN provides me with an outlet for this belief, my energy, and my efforts. With COVID funding starting to dwindle and programs coming to an end, we are starting to see an increase in homelessness in Michigan. This highlights the need for more funding and supportive services, but perhaps more importantly the need to create more affordable housing opportunities through policy reform and development,” she said.

Dana Pagila-King speaking at a fair housing speaking eventWhile pursuing her MSW, Paglia-King has contributed to many impactful efforts, including researching and drafting the Oakland County Fair Housing Initiative, which created a contract between Oakland County and the Fair Housing Center of Metro Detroit and encourages cities to pass source of income protections.

“Source of Income protections prevent landlords from discriminating against low-income renters and other vulnerable communities utilizing rental assistance programs (such as rental subsidized or Housing Choice Vouchers) to pay their rent. After passing this initiative, three cities in Oakland County passed their own version of Source of Income protections including Ferndale. Now, Source of Income protections has passed the Michigan Senate and may potentially become a statewide protection, which is super exciting!” she said.

Paglia-King named Associate Professors Brady Baybeck and Matthew Larson as influential mentors during her studies.

“I took Dr. Baybeck’s Public Budgeting class as the sole Social Work student in the group. It was the most challenging class I have ever taken, but with my interest in political social work, I knew it would be a crucial skill to learn. Dr. Baybeck was beyond patient with me and incredibly supportive. Dr. Larson helped facilitate my directed study over the summer. My study focused on housing as an intervention for justice-impacted individuals to reduce recidivism. His support of the project helped me grow not only my knowledge and passion for housing and justice reform, but also my confidence in advocating for these issues,” she said.

Additionally Academic Services Advisor Andre Iadipaolo noted, “Dana is a high-achieving macro social worker who has participated in numerous voting outreach projects. They were also recognized for their student social justice efforts outside of the classroom as a winner of the 2022 Coalition of Community Social Workers (CCSW) Student Excellence of Social Justice Award.” Launched in the 2021-22 academic year, the award recognized social work students who display excellence in academic performance; exhibit excellence in advocacy, leadership, and/or community building, planning or service; demonstrate advancement of social justice; contribute to the positive image of their social work program; and showcase of the NASW Code of Ethics.

After graduation, Paglia-King plans to continue her work at CHN, and in the next five years she sees herself as a Legislative Director or Policy Advisor for the State or Federal Government.

“A run for local office is also not off the table,” she said.

Outside of her work, Paglia-King loves all things food.

“I have my Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts and worked on food trucks before I decided to pursue the social work/human services field. I also have two dogs, two cats, and a tortoise – my fur and scale children are a huge part of my life.”

Author: Laura Hipshire laurahipshire@wayne.edu; Editor: Betsy Vanderstelt fq0994@wayne.edu

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