Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez left the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at the end of June.
Henriquez had served as assistant secretary for public and Indian housing for more than five years. The first woman to hold the post, she joined the staff when the Obama administration entered office in 2009.
“To be part of this administration has been personally and professionally such a privilege,” she says. “Even if I stayed two seconds, it would have been memorable for me.”
Henriquez’s departure means the loss of another high-ranking official at HUD this year. Secretary Shaun Donovan has been asked to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. Julián Castro, mayor of San Antonio, has been nominated to take Donovan’s place.
Other HUD appointees will also likely leave as the Obama administration moves further into its second, and final, term.
During her tenure, Henriquez worked on several of the agency’s most notable initiatives, including the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, the cornerstone of HUD’s rental housing preservation strategy. She was also involved in efforts to end homelessness and the Choice Neighborhoods program to revitalize distressed communities.
Henriquez, who was responsible for overseeing the nation’s public housing authorities (PHAs), says she is proud that housing agencies in New Orleans, the Virgin Islands, and several other communities have been returned to local control after being placed in receivership. Exit strategies are in place to return other PHAs to local control.
Henriquez brought deep and practical experience to the agency. Prior to joining HUD, she led the Boston Housing Authority, one of the nation’s largest housing authorities, for 13 years.
At HUD, she was part of a new leadership team dubbed the “Dream Team” for its extensive housing experience. Others included Donovan, who led the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Carol Galante, assistant secretary for housing and Federal Housing Administration commissioner, was president and chief executive of BRIDGE Housing, a San Francisco–based nonprofit developer.
“We’re all practitioners,” Henriquez says. “We lived the life.”
Saying it’s the right move and the right time to leave, she plans to enjoy time off before deciding her next career move. “It’s time to do something else,” she says. “I’ve had a wonderful time.”
Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF.