SHA Participant Services
Julia Ortiz completes SHA’s newest department
As Springfield Housing Authority’s mobility counseling program coordinator, Julia Ortiz will be nudging Housing Choice Voucher recipients to move around a bit.
Ortiz was hired in July, SHA’s first professional in a U.S. Housing and Urban Development-sanctioned position aimed at getting federally subsidized renters into better neighborhoods. Ortiz said she looks forward to diving into the work, because it will help people rise out of poverty.
“This is a concentrated effort to help make people aware that there are opportunities out there that they may not have thought much about,” said Ortiz, who has worked with low-income families for many years, including her most recent stint at the state Department of Transitional Assistance.
“A lot of our clients don’t leave the communities where they live because they don’t know that it’s an option for them,” she noted.
Ortiz’ hiring completes SHA’s Participant Services Department, created last year to foster financial independence among those in the Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8. Participants rent private apartments, using federal subsidies based on income.
The department includes Manager Loleta Collins, Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator Joseph Dumpson, Homeownership Coordinator Pamela Ledoux and now, Ortiz.
Ortiz will begin her work by gathering data by zip code that includes poverty rates, school drop-out rates, crime statistics, and access to employment, parks and recreational opportunities, to identify “neighborhoods of opportunity.” She will then work with both Section 8 recipients and landlords in an approach that will be both educational and logistical.
Families and individuals who decide to move to better areas may stay inside the city, or move outside of Springfield, she noted.
Fluent in Spanish, Ortiz is a long-time resident of Springfield who dropped out of high school, earned her GED and went on to earn an associate’s degree at Springfield Technical Community College, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Springfield College. Besides the DTA, she has worked in the Parent and Community Engagement Center of the Springfield School Department, HAP Housing, Home City Housing and Springfield School Volunteers, among others.
Collins said she is pleased to have Ortiz on board.
“She absolutely completes the team,” Collins said. “She brings a lot of experience with families in Springfield, she’s capable and a good fit for us. She knows a lot of agencies in Springfield, and the people involved.”
Ortiz will work out of SHA’s 60 Congress St. headquarters.
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