Our Story: Learn more about HACA and our residents in this series of videos
In cooperation with HACA residents past and present, we created a series of videos about HACA and its current and former residents. HACA helps low-income individuals and families have a stable, safe place to live and then offers much more. Through grants and community partnerships, HACA provides its constituents with avenues to education and financial independence, and enriches the lives of its residents.
One of the first housing authorities in the nation, the HACA has provided low-income residents of Austin with affordable housing options and avenues to self-sufficiency for more than 75 years. The HACA mission is to cultivate sustainable affordable housing communities and partnerships that inspire self-reliance, growth and optimism through two affordable housing programs: conventional public housing and the Housing Choice Voucher / Section 8 program. Through these programs, HACA assists more than 19,000 low income Austinites with housing needs each year.
HACA housing initiatives are complemented by additional programs that promote financial and housing independence, including: Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency; the Family Self-Sufficiency program; the Youth Educational Success program that includes in-school mentorship and after school programs; college scholarships; and a homeownership program.
Apprenticeship and Leadership Program
Historic public housing development Rosewood Courts was awarded a planning grant to study the situation and formulate recommendations for revitalizing and improving the 75-year-old community. In response to this opportunity, an apprenticeship and leadership program was developed with the goal of creating local leaders who could collect input and represent fellow residents. The program was intended to cultivate the skills required to support empowerment and advocacy. The result: a group of thoughtful citizens received the training and support that they needed to foster dialogue about the future of Rosewood Courts. Discussion in the community was spurred, resident feedback was captured and these leaders shared their perspectives with a range of organizations from the City of Austin to the Texas Historical Commission.
Maleah Douglas was a former drug addict, alcoholic and a four-time convict. HACA gave her the chance she needed to make a fresh start. Now clean and sober, Douglas is achieving goals she never thought possible. After graduating from the Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency Program, Maleah enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and is currently working toward her GED. Douglas now serves as a Resident Council and Citywide Advisory Board officer, representing the needs and interests of HACA’s public housing residents. She has also recently received the Resident of the Year award from the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
At only 18, Yvonne Alaniz found herself as an unemployed mother of two on the cusp of losing the home that she shared with her husband. After receiving notice that their monthly mortgage payment was not received, Alaniz confronted her husband to discover not only that he was using drugs, but also that he had spent the money that would have gone toward the mortgage payment. Not wanting to subject her children to the trauma of seeing their father battle with drugs, Alaniz took the children and left. With assistance through the HACA Family Self-Sufficiency Program, Alaniz successfully completed her education and fulfilled her dream of becoming a registered nurse. Credit counseling and down payment assistance made her dream of buying her own home a reality.
As a single mother of three, Angela Van found even working full time could not always make ends meet. HACA has provided her with a much-needed financial break in addition to resources, like financial planning assistance and childcare, that she otherwise would not have been able to access. By participating in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, Van has been able to utilize the community resources available to her through the HACA to identify and meet her goals of independence. HACA partners have helped Van to work full time, take steps toward her goal of homeownership, and have supported her daughters’ academic success.
Raised in Chalmers Courts, Gerardo Castillo lived with his two sisters and his single working mother. For Gerardo, the affordable housing of Chalmers Courts didn’t feel like a public housing project – rather it was his neighborhood, his community and his home. It was a safety net, a hand up and an opportunity to strive for education and independence in the present and future. Castillo, his sister and his mother were the first in their family to attend college. With the support of HACA scholarships, Castillo graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and his mother earned a teaching degree from St. Edward’s University. Today, Castillo is senior vice president and chief of staff at Capital Metro, where he believes he has opportunity to give back to his community. Self-sufficiency and independence underscore HACA’s mission. Castillo describes HACA as providing opportunities that complement each individual’s own initiative.