All Kinds of Homes in All Parts of Town for All Kinds of People


Laura Morrison

What positions do you hold, besides being a HousingWorks Austin board member?

Since I completed my terms on the Austin City Council, I’ve continued to serve the community in several ways. I serve on the board of ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition) and as treasurer of the organization. ECHO works to enhance the capacity to serve the homeless in our community and end the state of homelessness in Austin. I am also a member of the Community Media Advisory Committee of Austin Public, the recently rebranded public access TV channels and production facility overseen now by the Austin Film Society, and I am the chair of the Forklift Danceworks Community Advisory Committee for the upcoming project, “My Park, My Pool, My City,” a unique effort using art and community engagement to reach creative solutions to the challenges of the aquatics system in East Austin.

Housing + Health Summit

Where did you grow up and attend school?

As a child, my family moved around a bit, living in Los Angeles; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Alcoa, Tennessee; and finally Cleveland, Ohio where I graduated from high school. I received a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s, also in mathematics, from the University of California, San Diego. I have a graduate certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Response, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Public Health.

What are your major career accomplishments?

I have had a varied professional career, including as an engineer, but certainly I consider my contributions that supported our community while I served as a council member from 2008-2015 among my most meaningful accomplishments. Several of these efforts were in the realm of affordable housing, taking the lead for example to develop and adopt an affordable housing preservation plan to create more substantive housing affordability benefits with increases in land entitlements, and to allocate an additional $10 million in City funds to affordable housing projects in the face of a housing bond defeat at the polls in 2012.

One of the challenges (and joys!) of serving as a council member is the responsibility to address myriad issues facing the city. Outside the realm of housing affordability, I was proud to play a major role in several accomplishments. For example: ensuring that the governance of one of the city’s most valuable resources, Austin Energy, remained under the leadership of officials directly accountable to the residents of Austin, the City Council; Austin becoming the largest “No-Kill” city in the U.S. in 2012, achieving over 90% live outcomes from our animal shelter since then; and dedicating funding to replace two of our popular but failing neighborhood swimming pools as we initiated a master planning effort to comprehensively address the future of our unique aquatics landscape with a systematic approach.

What are some interests of yours not related to your work or HousingWorks?

I love to travel. Portland and San Francisco, where our sons and their families live, are always first choice destinations. This past year I’ve been fortunate with visits to Europe while my husband, Phil, a physics professor at UT, is spending a year doing research in Munich. 2016 was an especially poignant time to be touring in Germany, to delve into the social forces that led to the rise of a horrific, authoritarian regime.

At home, I am often submerged in the magic waters of Barton Springs. Sunday afternoons are dedicated to tap dancing. And as an avid film watcher, the SXSW Film Festival has been our stay-at-home spring break vacation, watching, in a good year, over 40 films during the nine-day stretch.

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