We’re proud to welcome Claudia Acuña Fernandez as New Story’s impact partnerships director!
Claudia brings more than 20 years of experience in Mexico’s urban development and housing sector. She’s held positions at the Ministry of Social Development, the Federal Mortgage Society, and, most recently, INFONAVIT (National Institute of the Workers’ Housing Fund).
At INFONAVIT, Claudia served as Mexico’s National Coordinator of Housing Self-production, designing and implementing programs to improve the access and quality of housing for low-income families.
“I am extremely excited for Claudia to join New Story, not only for her remarkable experience in the field of housing for low-income families, but also for her passion and commitment to finding solutions that are sustainable and don’t rely on one single actor to reduce the housing deficit for vulnerable populations.” — Sandra Prieto, managing director of strategy and impact at New Story
Claudia also worked in social housing enterprises and has been a member of the board of directors of various civil society organizations dedicated to meeting the housing needs of those living on lower incomes. She completed her undergraduate studies in International Relations at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and has a master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries from the London School of Economics.
Claudia lives in Mexico City, where she enjoys hiking, traveling with her family, and cooking for her friends.
What made you excited about joining New Story?
First of all, the mission: I have more than 20 years of experience working in the Mexican housing sector, finding solutions that increase low-income families’ access to adequate housing. New Story is the perfect fit for my personal and professional interests. The team’s mission helps me fulfill my mission.
Second, the team: It’s amazing to join a team of people who are not only passionate about helping others access better housing but who are talented, capable, and willing to invest their time to support that mission.
How would you describe your role at New Story to a friend?
At New Story, we’re developing and implementing a strategy that will enable the housing market to offer better solutions for low-income families so they don’t have to depend on subsidies or donations to have a chance to improve their living conditions. My role is to understand the key actors in the market, partner with them, and develop opportunities that reduce barriers between low-income families and adequate housing.
What core problems in the Mexican housing market are you passionate about addressing?
More than 60% of the houses in Mexico have been self-produced without financial or technical support. This type of construction can take up to 15 years, which makes families live for a long time in unsuitable conditions. What motivates me the most is offering these families the possibility of continuing to build, improve, or expand their homes according to their needs and their economic and cultural conditions while helping them reduce construction times and improve their homes’ quality, habitability, and structural safety.
What accomplishments are you most proud of from your time at INFONAVIT?
The most important accomplishment was developing the National Housing Self-production strategy. This allowed us to elevate self-production as the primary strategy to address the qualitative housing deficit and coordinate the work of all institutions in the housing sector to offer products and services that strengthen this method of producing housing.
Through this strategy, we were also able to generate knowledge that allowed us to understand the housing needs of low-income families better and create a great social platform through coordinated work with actors from the private and social sectors, academia, and international organizations that joined this vision.
How do you see New Story as uniquely positioned to help address the housing crisis in Mexico?
New Story has taken the best approach to solve the housing crisis in Mexico. The organization is strengthening the housing market, which gives families better opportunities to solve their housing needs sustainably. There is not enough philanthropy to build homes for everyone, so I think New Story’s value proposition can be a great catalyst for change and putting more families on the path to adequate housing.