As announced by City Manager Spencer Cronk at the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 presentation, Lori Pampilo Harris has been selected as the new Homeless Strategy Officer. She will assume her new role effective September 9, 2019.
Lori Pampilo Harris was an advisor and consultant to the public and private sectors, mapping out and implementing solutions of complex policy and social issues. This includes building of inclusive and unique issue-based coalitions and developing effective engagement strategies.
Most recently, Harris served as Senior Advisor on Homelessness and Social Services to Honorable Mayor Buddy Dyer of the City of Orlando. Lori had the unique and ambitious goal of implementing "Housing First" and supported the successful end to chronic veterans’ homelessness and reducing homelessness by 23.6% in a single year.
In 2016, after the Pulse gay nightclub mass shooting that killed 49 innocent individuals and injuring dozens of others occurred, Harris was tapped by Mayor Dyer to map out the City of Orlando’s long-term support for the survivors and victims’ families. Through that effort, a long-term commitment for a regional resiliency center was created, known as the Orlando United Assistance Center, with a special focus on the LGBTQ, Latinx, communities of color and other marginalized communities.
Prior to her appointment with the City of Orlando, Harris spent nearly 14 years with Habitat for Humanity International in various leadership capacities with expertise in disaster recovery and response, affordable housing, emergency shelter solutions, resource development, and advocacy. This included four years in Haiti, after the devastating 2010 earthquake. While in Haiti, Harris took a leading role in hosting President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, for two, 1 week-long projects that built 300 homes with over 500 volunteers in back to back years.
The issue of homelessness has been identified as the City Council’s top priority in the City of Austin’s Strategic Direction 2023 Plan. The Homeless Strategy Office’s approach to coordinating shelter and support services for those experiencing homelessness will be a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to respond to a very human issue.
“I am honored to serve the City of Austin, with homelessness being its top priority. Creating a comprehensive plan in which the public, private, philanthropic and local homeless providers are working together to achieve transformational results is critical,” Harris said. “The City of Austin is willing to take a fresh look, with hopeful eyes, at one of our most intractable issues – homelessness. We want the discussions and strategy to be about ending homelessness for our most vulnerable community members, not just coping with homelessness,” Harris shared.
The work to be accomplished through the Homeless Strategy Office is critical, and every effort was made to find the right candidate who not only has extensive experience in working with programs and organizations to help the homeless, but also a drive to work with City leaders to coordinate the City’s homeless response activities with multiple departments and community organizations.
Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales led the recruitment for Austin’s first Homeless Strategy Officer. “I look forward to working with Lori on homelessness initiatives and programs that will help reach the City’s goals that focus on the importance of assisting those in Austin experiencing homelessness,” Gonzales stated.
Harris replaces Veronica Briseño who has served Interim HSO since March 2019. Briseño accepted and transitioned into her new role as Director of the Economic Development Department (EDD) in late June of 2019. After her transition to EDD, she remained the Interim HSO until a new Homeless Strategy Officer could be hired.