More than a House

David A. Northern, Sr, Leading Houston Housing Authority

David A. Northern, Sr. encourages residents to trust the process.

David A. Northern, Sr., knows the importance of having a safe place to call home. As the new President and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority (HHA), he is focused on unifying resources and helping Houstonians recover from the economic challenges of the pandemic as well as mitigate the compounding risk caused by natural disasters such as floods, wildfires and freezes.

The need for safety and security against threats is both real and primal. As many Houstonians and citizens around the world are adjusting to the ‘new normal’, the desire for a safe place to reset and rebuild is essential. Although vulnerable populations have a high risk of experiencing significant recovery disparities, money does not prevent one from being negatively impacted by natural disasters or being displaced from your home due to unforeseen events.

A Safe Place To Call Home

Northern is President and CEO of the Houston Housing Authority and although he has an incredible title, he is driven by the belief that his job is about service. With the economic challenges of the pandemic, the rise of income loss due to underemployment, divorce or spousal death as well as concurrent natural disasters, many residents have found themselves navigating new territory. Northern is aware of the challenges and is simultaneously addressing the long-term goals of the institution and focusing on the immediate needs of the individual. He is committed to ensuring the HHA provides an array of services to help people. These services are not just about transitioning from homelessness or increasing housing choices for low-income families but, ideally, it is about helping people to become self-sufficient.

Personal Restoration & Fulfillment

Northern states, “As President and CEO, my job is to ensure our agency provides an array of services to help people transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. We’ve designed our housing and service options to be as flexible as possible, so all who are eligible for our programs will be served. In addition to providing the tools needed to regain stability, I work with my senior executive team members to ensure our case management staff provides ongoing, intensive support to help each individual achieve their own personal restoration and fulfillment.”

Family Self-Sufficiency

The HHA Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program offers employment and other case management services designed to promote economic self-sufficiency for families currently participating in the Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing Programs. FSS participants develop specific financial goals, through individual training, a services plan and they work with an FSS coordinator to identify activities and services to help achieve these long-term goals over a five-year period.


Northern recently incorporated the hashtag #trusttheprocess. He recognizes the value of the journey and providing the community with an opportunity to take that voyage along with the help of the HHA as it builds a coalition of doers and believers who want to help improve the human condition.

Long-term Goals

Northern is acutely aware of the inequities in wealth and services between wealthy and low-income communities. Northern told The Tré Magazine “It became painfully evident as families were negatively impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the 2021 freeze. Many who lived in low-income neighborhoods found it difficult to recover, especially since many were hourly workers who lost their jobs in the process. When you can’t pay your rent, you lose out. Without savings or disposable income, many community members in need found it difficult to secure a place to stay. Undoubtedly, our work gives people hope.”

A Fundamental Human Right

Northern believes a key part of the mission is creating more affordable housing. “There’s never enough housing. It is imperative that we nurture and develop relationships with landlords and developers to encourage the growth and expansion of new, affordable housing communities to ensure our most vulnerable have a safe place to live. “What I believe to be true is that shelter is a fundamental human right. It is essential to personal dignity, health, and well-being. It provides protection from violence and oppression. The right to shelter should not be based on wealth, status, gender, or race. Simply put, everyone should have access to safe and secure housing to live in peace and privacy”.

A Better Tomorrow

Northern describes himself as a servant leader. “ What matters most to me is ensuring the people around me – family, friends, and colleagues – are provided with the care and commitment they deserve. Consequently, I have always felt most comfortable in the affordable housing industry. Knowing that my work positively impacts people’s lives is quite a blessing. I hope that my work continues to give people the confidence and motivation to build for a better tomorrow.


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Written by thetremag

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