Texas Housers is proud to announce that Julia Orduña has been named our new Southeast Texas Regional Director. Julia joined our team in 2019 and has primarily worked alongside resident leaders in several African-American and Hispanic communities in Houston. Orduña assuming this role comes in the wake of the leadership she has demonstrated, allowing her the opportunity to now advance housing justice region wide.
“To me, Housing Justice means security and safety,” Orduña said. “We must ensure all Houstonians have access to dignified housing that they can afford, whether it’s by creating affordable housing that targets all income levels or assuring that wages in our area meet rental costs. Without assessing what our residents need, we cannot truly help them. And we must understand that the level of help needed by different communities may be unique and may take more effort to reach this goal. It also means that each person’s home must meet all standards to be a safe space with dignity to rest and raise their families. A home is a sanctuary. It should not be treated like a commodity.”
Working with community residents and leaders facing institutional obstacles to rebuild their homes flooded by Hurricane Harvey has been Orduña’s main focus. The rebuilding has been long, difficult, and characterized by failures of state and city government to meet the needs of disaster survivors. This experience taught her about the struggle for housing equity and justice of low-income communities in our nation’s fourth largest city.
“It has been a pleasure to work as a community navigator with Texas Housers for the last two years,” Orduña observed. “Through that work, I’ve been entrenched in community to learn about the intricacies of people’s lives and the barriers they face to gain equitable treatment. It goes without saying that each person, regardless of the trials they have been through, are equipped with lived experiences and drive. Through organizing, the ideas of the collective are synergized into action. I have seen lives changed because of organizing – sometimes on a small scale where tenants come out to support a tenant who is being illegally treated by their landlord or on a larger scale where years of collaboration turns into a national issue about inequitable disaster recovery.”
As Texas Housers’ former regional director Zoe Middleton joins the Harris County Precinct One policy team to work on America Rescue Plan and climate justice initiatives, we will deeply miss her on our team, but are excited she will bring her experience as a Houser to the critical government sector.
In taking over for Middleton, Orduña says she is excited at the prospect of supporting community leaders to bring regional level change. “I would like to shape a future where residents are not gaslit or patronized when they raise concerns and are granted a seat at the table without having to fight for it. I believe in partnerships that uplift and empower each other as well as the symbiotic nature between housing, race, labor, and climate where when one of these issues is out of balance, a person’s livelihood is ultimately at stake. I hope to be as effective a bridge between the reality we are living and the future we hope to achieve as Houston regional director.”
Housing affordability, lack of access to safe and dignified housing, and climate change are Orduña’s top priorities.
She understands that to be the marker for change begins with institutions trusting resident voices. “I hope that government officials can begin to trust their constituents in a way that their concerns are legitimized and addressed. Representing marginalized voices is important.” The experience of the problems with disaster recovery has taught Orduña that, “we must learn from our past mistakes and the mistakes of our predecessors to assure we are not always recycling the inequities that persist in our society today.”