July 12, 2019 | by Anna Orendain
Every quarter TSAHC spotlights a staff member or partner to help our readers get to know our mission and industry a little better. This week we interviewed Vivian Ballou, Executive Director of Legacy CDC, a non-profit that focuses on developing affordable housing and providing financial counseling to low-to-moderate income families in Southeast Texas.
Legacy CDC has been partnering with TSAHC through the Affordable Communities of Texas (ACT) and Texas Housing Impact Fund programs since 2013. Below is our interview with Vivian.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started working in the affordable housing industry.
My background is actually based on 25 years of municipal service. I started at the City of Port Arthur, where I was the Housing Administrator there for 14 years before moving to the Beaumont Housing Authority for 3 years. I then worked for the City of Irving as their Executive Director for their Housing and Human Services Department for 6 years. After all that, I retired from government work in 2010 and began my life as a non-profit executive director.
How did Legacy CDC get started?
Legacy CDC was founded in 2006 as a church group, which included myself, that volunteered with at-risk kids. As we started working with these children, we realized that the problems they were having in school and in life were actually rooted in the housing instability experienced by their families. So when I retired in 2010, our group decided to create a fully-functioning organization that would be able to help solve the housing issues that so many kids are dealing with.
Legacy CDC's name is actually based on the legacy of my mother, who founded a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, and food bank in Port Arthur. Legacy is my opportunity to complete her dream; to help people move not just out of homelessness and into temporary housing, but to be able to help solve the problem by moving them to permanent housing.
What are your goals for Legacy CDC now and in the next five years?
Because Hurricane Harvey affected our community last year, our short-term goal is not only to rebuild ourselves as an organization, but to resolve some of the disaster recovery issues in our community, especially in the area of homeownership.
Long-term, our goal is to build 60 homes in Port Arthur as part of a downtown revitalization project. We also hope to expand our current service area and get the organization in a position where we can take on larger projects in addition to more multifamily projects.
Which professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
Legacy CDC. It is a passion, a ministry, for me, not just a job! Seeing the difference between where we started and where we are now just gives me so much pride. We're a relatively small organization, but the impact that we have had in the Port Arthur community is immense.
I am also so proud of the downtown revitalization project that we’re doing. Being born and raised in Port Arthur, I saw the city when we were booming. I've lived here all my life and shopped downtown as a child. So to be a part of its revitalization, I think, is just wonderful.
What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?
My husband and I bought an RV last year, so on the weekends I live the RV life with my grandkids. It doesn’t get any better than that! You know, I’m not an outdoors person and I’ve never been a camper, but I love it. And my grandkids love it! So I’m officially an RV-er now.
Is there anything else that you’d like people to know, either about you or Legacy CDC?
I love it! This is not a job for me — I love what I do. It doesn't feel like work to me. People always tell me, “Oh you work all night, and all weekend,” because I’m always emailing or doing things for Legacy, but to me it’s not work… it’s what I want to do!
On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.
I spent most of my life as a resident of Port Arthur, Texas, until Hurricane Harvey further damaged the city, and we moved to the Brenham area. Fortunately for Port Arthur, we had Legacy to re-establish many homes that were damaged by the hurricane (s). These home not only provide housing, but they establish pride in the homeowners and in their children.