On February 21, following the digital-only ceremonies of the past few years, the Houser Awards made its long-awaited return in person at the Austin Central Library. Joined by advocates, organizers, and partners in the affordable housing world, Texas Housers was proud to honor three deserving and distinguished recipients of the 2023 Houser Award: Council Member Teri Castillo, Diana McIver, and the Northeast Action Collective.
Opening our afternoon, Texas Housers co-director Karen Paup set the stage by addressing the challenges we’ve faced to improve the lives of low-income households: “While the tragedy of unnecessary evictions continues today, these public interventions during the pandemic prove that there is another way. We and other Housers have resolved that we need to keep the momentum for renters’ rights going, while we continue to seek more affordable housing development funds.”
Our obstacles are clear in front us, we know what it will take to overcome money from special interests and lobbyists from apartment associations, however, we have an outlined vision to make sure tenants and low-income households across our state can live freely under the four rights:
- The right to choose your home and neighborhood.
- The right to stay in your home and neighborhood and not be displaced.
- The right to equal treatment in access to housing and public infrastructure
- The right to have a say in programs and policies of government that affect your home.
Research director Ben Martin gave some insight into the gains we’ve made since the last Houser Awards and what is coming next, including the passed Tenant Bill Of Rights and code enforcement resolutions in San Antonio, fair housing complaints in Houston that have been confirmed by the Department of Housing And Urban Development, statewide research efforts documenting the equity of emergency rental assistance and what happens in eviction court, among many other major milestones.
Following this update from our staff, we proudly honored the three recipients of this year’s Houser Awards: Teri Castillo, Diana McIver, and the Northeast Action Collective. Each of these awardees passionately spoke to exactly why they work to make the lives of low-income Texans better through advocacy, representation, organizing, creation of affordable housing, and holding those in power accountable.
Council Member Castillo spoke about growing up as a proud West Sider in San Antonio and wanting to do more as a resident, organizer, and now policy maker in her city. Diana McIver remarked on the significance of gaining acceptance from the advocacy world as a builder of housing, which is a pursuit much more difficult and rewarding than for-profit spaces. And Northeast Action Collective’s Doris Brown challenged everyone in the room to join them or any organizers working toward housing justice, adding that everyone present had skills to offer to work toward true equity.
It was our privilege to share the stage with these fellow Housers, and we cannot wait to see what more they will accomplish in the future. In research director Ben Martin’s words: “Things are happening in the state of Texas. It is time to be excited. It is time to be vigilant. Texas Housers is not in this work alone, and thank goodness for that. The awardees you’re going to hear about today understand in their bones that even in Texas – especially in Texas – now is the time for bold vision and action. Thank you.”
Congratulations to the 2023 Houser Award recipients!
We also want to give thanks to our Sponsors and Contributors who made the Houser Awards possible”
Judy Coffin & Willy Forbath
Robert & Arlene Paup
Covenant Community Capital
Housing Authority of
the City of Austin
Rafael & Paty Orduña
Daniel & Beshara, PC
Kate Rainey Willson
Nick Barbaro & Susan Moffat
Sherry Matthews Group
Ladies of Charity
Pamela Brown & David Hall
Bob & Margy Ayres
Frances Leos Martinez & Joel Martinez
Heather Way & Bill Christian
Janee Briesemeister & David Anderson
Lourdes Flores & Ignacio Treviño
Ann Teich Elliott Naishtat
Fred & Jane Fuchs
Ann Baddour & Nelson Mock
We’ll see you next year for the Houser Awards!