Gina Uresti is part of the Homeless Prevention team at the Greensboro Housing Coalition (GHC), a HUD certified Housing Counseling Agency that works with individuals and families to secure safe, affordable housing. Gina bridges the gap between housing counseling and the healthy housing program by connecting the organization with individuals and families in the community and conducting outreach in the local schools. Brett Byerly, GHC Executive Director says, “the fact that she is in the schools working with people before there is a problem helps give the organization credibility.”
Gina earned her BA in Political Science and Spanish, and her MS in Public Administration from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Her interest in public health began at age 12 when she started volunteering at UNC Family Medicine with a professor who submitted grants enabling local community members to obtain access to mammograms, nutritional education, and reproductive health classes for teens. Thinking about being in the community and collaborating with families she explains, “it’s one of those things you don’t even realize you’re doing because it’s so enjoyable.” In addition to providing housing counseling and conducting outreach efforts and home visits, Gina also attends the Minimum Housing Standards Commission every month, on behalf of GHC, to act as the face of advocacy in the room.
GHC provides counseling for more than 4,000 clients each year focusing on the search for affordable housing, rental agreement literacy, and maintaining a positive tenant/landlord relationship. The organization’s goal is to empower people that want a better housing situation. Brett adds, “we teach people to advocate for themselves because it’s more sustainable and actually fixes problems in the long run.” He also notes that the desire for better housing must be mutual, and GHC will not contact a client’s landlord if they are not explicitly asked to do so.
When asked about the most exciting parts of her job, Gina explains that she enjoys working with the community because they have so many questions. By providing the green cleaning kit to families, she can begin building trust and help her clients get the housing assistance they need. When talking about her experience with the Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force she says, “community members, especially refugees, don’t know about things like lead in spices, and that’s one of the reasons I love going to the quarterly meetings.” By gaining knowledge about emerging sources of lead and conversing with local partners, Gina is also building repour with the communities she serves.