STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
A “worker bee” is how people described Burnet Housing Authority Executive Director Billie Shelburn in their nomination of her for the national Charles L. Farris Award.
“If I ever dedicate myself to something, I’m going to do it,” Shelburn said.
She helps manage public housing and public housing assistance programs in Burnet.
Shelburn has carried that hardworking mentality with her for 39 years at the authority, which earned her the award at the Southwest National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials annual banquet June 10-13 in Kansas City, Missouri. The award, established in 1983, is given to a person who “has shown a personal commitment to the future of housing and redevelopment.”
While attending the banquet, Shelburn said she had no idea the name called for the award would be hers.
“I was very, very surprised and humbled. It brought tears to my eyes,” she recalled.
The organization even conspired to bring her family to the banquet without her knowing. For months before the banquet, she said everyone kept the secret a surprise.
Along with her duties in Burnet, Shelburn has actively served within multiple levels of the professional organization. She was president of Texas NAHRO from 2011-13 and been on the board since 2007. Shelburn also has been an active member of Southwest NAHRO since 2007. In 2017, the Texas NAHRO inducted Shelburn into its Hall of Fame.
“I believe Mrs. Shelburn is a very deserving recipient of this award and has devoted her life to the housing industry and improving her community and the lives of those less fortunate,” wrote Texas NAHRO Secretary Beverly Banks in 2017 to nominate Shelburn to the Hall of Fame. “She is one of the most genuine, giving, and honest ladies God created.”
Shelburn said she pours so much of herself into the job because of her tenants.
“A lot of them are elderly. They are my heart. Some have no families or anyone to lean on, so I’m the one for them to lean on,” Shelburn said. “I try my best to help them anytime they need help. It’s very rewarding and hard to step away.”
NAHRO was established in 1933 as a membership organization of housing and community development agencies and professionals. Today, NAHRO’s membership administers over 3 million housing units for 7.9 million people.