Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante announced that she will step down this fall to join the University of California at Berkeley.
Galante has been a key member of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since 2009. She first joined the Obama administration as HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing. Galante then served as acting FHA commissioner and assistant secretary for housing before being confirmed to the post at the end of 2012.
Her departure is another key loss in senior leadership at HUD. Shaun Donovan, who had been HUD secretary for five years, recently left to become head of the Office of Management and Budget. Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has replaced him as HUD secretary.
Sandra Henriquez also recently left her post as assistant secretary for public and Indian housing. President Obama has nominated Lourdes Castro Ramirez, head of the San Antonio Housing Authority, to fill the vacancy.
Galante informed the HUD staff on Monday that she will leave the agency toward the end of the year. In January, she will assume the I. Don Terner Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing at Berkeley, where she will also serve as director of the Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy and co-chair of the Fisher Center of Real Estate Policy Advisory Board.
“This is a compelling opportunity for me to continue with work I am passionate about and also return home to California,” Galante wrote in a memo to staff.
She added that it’s not yet time for goodbyes. “Over the next few months as we transition, I will be relentless in focusing on our most recent initiative, the Blueprint for Access, and other high priorities such as the Rental Assistance Demonstration program,” Galante said. “I remain passionate about the work we do to make housing more available and affordable for American families and assist communities to thrive. It is why I joined HUD and why having the opportunity to work with you has been so rewarding. Thank you for making the past five years so successful and inspiring.”
She also said that she is confident that Biniam Gebre, general deputy assistant secretary for housing, will provide the leadership and continuity needed to continue progressing toward their goals. "In fact, it is because of the strong leadership team in both the field and headquarters that I can leave at this time with great confidence, knowing our work will continue unabated," she wrote.
Before joining HUD, Galante led San Francisco-based nonprofit BRIDGE Housing for many years. BRIDGE is one of the nation’s most-active affordable housing developers.
Terner built BRIDGE Housing and was its inspiration leader. He died in a 1996 plane crash in Croatia as he accompanied Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Industry leaders praised Galante for her work at HUD and FHA.
“As deputy assistant secretary for multifamily, Carol played an instrumental role bolstering the strength and stability of FHA’s multifamily and health-care programs coming out of the financial crisis,” said David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, in a statement. “Since assuming her current role as FHA commissioner, she has worked tirelessly on the critical reforms to further strengthen FHA’s risk management that have helped restore the financial health of the MMI (Mutual Mortgage Insurance) Fund. Throughout it all, she has been a strong advocate for FHA’s primary role providing safe, affordable, sustainable housing opportunities for all Americans.”
Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF.