Orange Housing Authority leader ready to help clients reach self sufficiency

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Sheryl Ford has been building a wealth of knowledge and experience for the past 35 years, all of which led her full circle and back with the City of Orange Housing Authority.

Ford, the new executive director of the Housing Authority was officially hired Dec. 27, is being called a breath of fresh air.

Housing Manager Ida Green said Ford has a new vision for the agency and social service programs that have been missing for a long time.

Ford is also bringing employees together who are now functioning as a family unit, she added.

Ford, a native of Orange and proud West Orange-Stark Mustang class of 1982 member, began her career in 1988 at the Orange County Housing Authority’s Vidor office and later moved on after earning a bachelor’s degree.

What she learned at the Housing Authority carried over through her social services work to her work as a hospice social worker. Today she has a bachelors and a masters in social work and criminal justice, is a licensed social worker in the State of Texas and certified dementia practitioner.

As director of the City of Orange Housing Authority, she is ready to bring hope to the residents and staff.

Sheryl Ford is the new executive director of the City of Orange Housing Authority. (Courtesy photo)

The plan

Ford is excited to make changes that matter.

“I don’t want to just bring programs for a year, help situations for a year but to assist in a legacy and help people for generations,” Ford said.

“The first priority is to bring in a social service program to assist with readiness and self sufficiency.”

There would be a program to help a person obtain a GED and a partnership could be made with Lamar University Orange to help with higher education.

There would be tutoring help for students and parenting classes for parents, and she plans to work with Texas Workforce.

She said she doesn’t want people to be in housing forever; instead she wants to help them get an education and become self-sufficient.

“I want to create a module so efficient and effective that someone is going to break the cycle of generational housing and go into home ownership, attain their education and break the cycle,” she said.

Ford said she loves the residents and interacting with them and the landlords and with her social service background she has empathy.

Been there

Ford called herself a late bloomer who didn’t start working on her education until she was 36. And it started with an epiphany.

“I needed to buy my daughter medicine and couldn’t afford it. I said, ‘God if you get me back in school, I will finish,’” she said. “Because of what I’ve been through in my younger years, just life, I’ve been on the other side of the desk. I know what it is to want help and of pride in self in pulling myself up.”

The past experiences enable her to better empathize with the clients, she said.

Tracy Thomas, deputy executive director, believes in Ford, saying she has a vision and is leading the organization in the right direction by bringing in social services.

“I believe those services will definitely help families become self-sufficient,” Thomas said.

Mickia Toler, receptionist at the Housing Authority office, also believes in Ford.

“I think her visions are excellent for this community,” Toler said, adding Ford is a hands-on person, which the agency needs.

The City of Orange Housing Authority provides a number of services from a public housing program to Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Officials can be reached by calling 409-883-5882.