Liz Mueller


As Interviewed by Jake R. Paterson, March 21, 2012
"I donít think in a country as wealthy as ours, that itís okay for people to live in a place that doesnít have heat or air conditioning. Or in a house that has really poor conditions. Or that forces a family to pay more than half their income for the rent."
Liz Mueller

Introductory Profile: About Liz Mueller

Many cities through America, like Austin, have seen home prices get higher and higher, pricing out moderate to lower income families from owning or even renting decent inexpensive housing. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding America help low-income families realize their dream of owning a home by helping them build and upgrade housing. There are many other ways to help low income families realize that dream. I decided to interview an expert on those different ways. I asked

Dr. Elizabeth Mueller is a national expert on affordable housing programs who has served as an advocate for decent, affordable housing throughout in her career. She is about 40 years-old and is a lively speaker. She is a very optimistic and passionate person who believes strongly that everyone should have equal opportunity in a fair society.

Dr. Mueller is an Associate Professor of Community and Regional Planning, but she also teaches in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas. She holds masters and doctoral degrees in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Most of the courses she teaches deal with social justice in multiple ways, from historical, economic development, and housing perspectives. She currently sits on Austinís Community Development Commission and is on the board of the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service and an Austin civic organization called LiveableCity.

I interviewed Dr. Mueller at her home in the French Place neighborhood on a Sunday. She was very calm and thoughtful in her responses, but I also noted that there is a lot of passion and caring for other people in how she describes her work. She found her way into fighting for affordable housing for the poor and vulnerable populations through different life and work experiences. What was clear is the strength of her convictions. For example, at the end of the interview she said, ďI think that everyone should have a decent place to live. I donít think in a country as wealthy as ours, that itís okay for people to live in a place that doesnít have heat or air conditioning. Or in a house that has really poor conditions. Or that forces a family to pay more than half their income for the rent.Ē I think this really captures where her heart and beliefs lie and why I think she is a great example of a champion for social justice in Austin.