Home > News > Meet HousingWorks Austin Board President Frances Ferguson, an Affordable Housing Trailblazer

HousingWorks Austin Board President Frances Ferguson

What position do you hold, besides being president of the HousingWorks Austin board?

I work for NeighborWorks America, a national intermediary that provides grants, training, peer exchange, and research/development in the field of community development.  My focus is on not-for-profit enterprises across the country who provide affordable rental housing.

Where did you grow up and attend school?

I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio in the 60s and 70s.  Had the good fortune to attend one of those smallish school districts where everyone knew everyone and a lot of us went from K-12 in the same school.  Lots of roots.  For college, I attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where I got very involved in managing their on campus cooperative system for housing and dining, which served about a third of the students.  This turned out to be my “start” in affordable housing.

FRancie quote 1 againAfter moving to Austin, with the goal of starting an affordable housing program for families, I attended U.T.’s School of Business to obtain my MBA in real estate and finance.  (The Oberlin bachelor’s degree in history just didn’t give me the vocabulary I needed for real estate.)

What are your major career accomplishments?

First of all, launching Foundation Communities. Pulling together a board of dedicated community business leaders around a vision of a nonprofit with a business model to provide high quality rental housing where residents would KNOW each other and be a part of an active resident community so that they have the benefits francie-with-mayorthat come from a real “neighborhood”.  At the time, people didn’t think of nonprofits as having a large scale business model – so this was new to our market.  And we were able to launch in the crash of the savings and loans in the late 80s and early 90s.

I’m also really enthusiastic about how Mueller is evolving. As a consultant to Catellus in the early years, the affordable housing plan has allowed Mueller to demonstrate many affordable housing concepts that were new to Austin – mixing incomes in a new for-sale development; mixing property types; smaller-sized, higher density properties; including very low income housing in a high value neighborhood and shared appreciation homeownership at scale.

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

Well, first, my two children who are in their 20s.  I love to be witness to their lives. It’s such an honor to be in family with them as interesting, fun, self-aware humans.

And, truth be told, I love to dance – two-step, swing. etc… I’m not that good, but it slaps a nonstop smile on my face.

I’m also very active in my church, Central Presbyterian, because it has such a warm community that really cares about people.

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