Foundation Communities brings awareness and solutions to Austin’s affordable housing crisis. Since opening its doors in 1990, the local nonprofit has helped over 6,000 families and individuals find a home and a better quality of life within its 23 affordable housing communities. Over the past 25 years, Executive Director, Walter Moreau has secured subsidy financing of more than $200 million to create more than 3,500 units of service-enriched, nonprofit-owned affordable housing. Here we explore his passion for affordable housing in Austin and his love for the community.
Q. WHAT DROVE YOU TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY/ORGANIZATION?
A: My faith led me to community service, and the more that I got involved in nonprofit work, the more I realized this was my calling. I first got the ‘housing bug’ when I visited some renovated hotels in Los Angeles that were providing housing and support services to formerly homeless individuals. This simple model works and changes lives, and I was inspired to create the same thing in Austin.
Q. HOW HAS LIVING IN AUSTIN CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
A: Austin has fueled my passion for music, especially the discovery of new artists that come here for SXSW. Every year I run the Capital 10k in the most elaborate and timely costume I can build. I also love Barton Springs; it is a magical place that calms my mind.
Q. HOW HAS AUSTIN CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
A: When I got here in the early ’90s, Austin was still cheap and weird. We are still hanging on to the weirdness barely, but we are not cheap. Austin has priced out too many people, and that has hurt our culture.
Q. WHAT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING YOU’VE SEEN DONE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
A: We often face opposition when we go to build new affordable housing, despite the fact that our communities are beautiful. I’ve been witness to people coming out to tour our communities and having their minds change. It is a beautiful thing when opponents convert to supporters.
Q. WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
A: My cat climbing on my face + coffee + Crossfit
Q. WHAT ARE SOME WAYS AUSTIN COULD SOLVE THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROBLEM? WHAT SOLUTIONS HAVE YOU SEEN IN OTHER CITIES?
A: Big cities that have reduced the number of people sleeping homeless have always relied upon building a variety of supportive housing models. It takes a commitment of resources for construction, rent, and services over time, but it is possible. London has a population of “rough sleepers” that is smaller than the number in Austin.
Q. HOW DO PEOPLE GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY/ORGANIZATION?
A: We have a dozen volunteer programs to choose from, and monthly Open Houses for folks to come see our work first hand. Our website is a great place to start.
Q. TELL US ABOUT A UNIQUE SUCCESS STORY WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION.
A: Carl grew up with family here in Austin, but ended up living on the street because of addictions to alcohol and cocaine. One day, a family member convinced him to go to a recovery program at the Salvation Army. After living there for two years, he was ready to move to a new home that would continue to support his recovery and success. Skyline Terrace has become his new community. Carl has been sober for over ten years and now works as a health champion for other residents.
WE’RE FOR HERE
Realty Austin is committed to supporting affordable housing in Austin through Foundation Communities. Throughout the summer, Realty Austin hosts Supper Clubs at various communities where agents and staff volunteer to serve Rudy’s BBQ for the residents. For the annual fundraiser, Realty Austin serves as the match fund sponsor, where donors double their impact by taking advantage of Realty Austin’s $75K Match Fund gift at the annual Welcome Home luncheon held on October 22, 2019. This year, Realty Austin’s $75k match fund inspired 163 new Home Builders at the luncheon raising over $1.5 million (that’s an all-time record)! The luncheon was hosted at Foundation Communities newest project, The Jordan at Mueller.
If you are looking for ways to give back this holiday season, start with the Foundation Communities Holiday Assistance Program. Through this program, you can sponsor a Foundation Communities family, donate to their holiday gift drive, or make a holiday donation. Let’s come together this year to help make the holidays brighter for Foundation Communities families!
If Foundation Communities has helped you or someone you know, please share your story with us in the comments section below!
Featured in Austin Monthly Magazine
You can find Walter Moreau featured in the December 2019 Austin Monthly issue on page 13.