By Zoë Middleton, Texas Housers, Houston and Southeast Texas Co-Director
At Texas Housers, we support low-income Texans’ efforts to achieve the American dream of a decent, affordable home in a quality neighborhood. We began 2018 by hiring an organizer for our new initiative called “12 Moms.” Our goal was to recruit and work alongside 12 women with children living in subsidized housing to speak out about the conditions of federally-subsidized housing and to tell their stories to promote the importance of housing assistance. Over the course of the year, this goal was greatly exceeded. 12 Moms is now an active group of 120 tenants living in subsidized housing advocating for improved quality of living in subsidized properties.
The initiative focused on two apartment complexes where we knew conditions were particularly dangerous and posed significant risk to tenants. These conditions include mold, decaying walls, and pests that negatively affect residents’ health. Federally-subsidized homes also tend to be located in high-crime neighborhoods that are segregated away from decent schools or safe places to play.
12 Moms educates women with children about how they can advocate for change. Our goal is to draw attention to these issues and demand that HUD and the City of Houston treat people fairly and respect their health and well-being enough to support safe, decent, and sanitary homes for low-income people across the city.
Though 12 Moms is a local effort, it may also have a national impact. Tenants have testified at city council meetings, met with HUD officials, and several tenants are plaintiffs in two lawsuits against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regarding substandard living conditions. We will continue to invest in tenant leaders and work alongside them to make their voices heard in promoting a more equitable Houston by demanding safe and decent subsidized housing.
Texas Housers is the winner of the 2019 Resident Organizing Award. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Organizing Awards recognize outstanding achievement in organizing activities that further NLIHC’s mission: Achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. Check out previous years’ blogs from Organizing Award winners and nominees.
To learn more about Texas Housers’ work, please visit: https://texashousers.net/
This post is part of a series featuring blogs from NLIHC Organizing Awards winners and top nominees.