Sylvia Alvarez is the founder and Executive Director of the Housing & Education Alliance a HUD certified housing counseling agency serving over 45,000 Tampa Bay residents since 2002. She coauthored a book entitled The American Nightmare: Strategies for Preventing, Surviving and Overcoming Foreclosure. The book detailed both judicial and non-judicial processes, phases, options, consequences of those options and even explained how a homeowner can rebuild their credit and purchase a home again. The book was endorsed by Freddie Mac translated into Spanish and used by consumers and HUD housing counselors throughout the country.

At the start of the foreclosure crisis, budget and funding cuts caused Sylvia Alvarez to make the hard decision to close the agency. When she advised the staff the agency was closing all HEA staff refused to stay home. For almost three years, all staff continued to work as volunteers or for drastically reduced salaries helping other families who were facing the same crisis their own households eventually faced. All staff either lost their own homes or was in some phase of the foreclosure process. Due to Sylvia’s leadership and staff loyalty HEA has turned the corner and is thriving. New programs were introduced and additional new supporters have provided funding for HEA making it a force to be reckoned with. She has seen up close and personal the effect the housing crisis has had on hard working families and she has become an advocate and voice for homeless families.

She appears regularly in the media on housing issues on local and national English and Spanish media. Through her leadership her agency has received much recognition and many awards including the coveted “Non Profit of the Year” through PBS’s national program the Be More Awards. She is a highly respected advocate of housing and has been invited to take part in meetings with US Treasury, HUD, Department of Agriculture and high level staff at the White House in Washington D.C.