Affordable housing leaders and others have shared their reaction to the change in leadership taking place at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Secretary Shaun Donovan has been tapped by President Obama to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has been nominated to replace Donovan at HUD.
Some of the statements coming from industry and other leaders are below:
Thomas Bledsoe, president and CEO, Housing Partnership Network:
Mayor Castro has demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting economic opportunity and advancement for people and families in San Antonio. We look forward to working with him as he takes on this challenge at a national scale at HUD. Safe, decent affordable housing is the bedrock of thriving neighborhoods and communities. A stable place to call home provides the ultimate platform for improved outcomes across a variety of interrelated areas such as health and education. HPN and its members of leading housing and community nonprofit organizations are excited to partner with Mayor Castro and confident he will carry forward the mantle of both expanding and preserving the stock of affordable housing.
HPN would also like to extend our great appreciation and deep thanks to Secretary Shaun Donovan for his leadership and stewardship of HUD since 2009. Secretary Donovan has been a true friend to the cause of affordable housing and community development and has launched many new initiatives that are transforming the way in which this work is done. His legacy at HUD will live on well past his tenure at the agency. From innovative policy initiatives to ongoing engagement with the housing industry, Secretary Donovan has worked to ensure sustainable, affordable housing options for families across the country.
Rick Lazio, head of the affordable housing and housing finance practice at the Jones Walker law firm and former congressman from New York:
There are a lot of programs under way at HUD right now, namely the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and it remains to be seen whether they can survive under the pressure of a new leader, or if a new leader will slow them down.
One thing that will surely suffer is the development of a lobbying structure to lift the cap for RAD (an increase from 60,000 units). Or will this slip through the cracks altogether?
I think the transition for Castro will be difficult—Washington is very different than San Antonio.
Then there’s the question of Shaun Donovan and his new position at the OMB—how much can he really help with these housing programs in his new position? While I am not sure that the OMB is as powerful as it has been in the past, we’ll have to see how much political capital Donovan is willing to use and what he will be able to do from his new post.
John Weld Peck, partner and leader of Jones Walker’s Cincinnati office:
I am very concerned—HUD has lost a lot of staff recently, and in this transition, all of the new staff will have to learn policy. There will be an experience gap for some period of time.
Castro will have all eyes on him, as his job is to be out in public, and I’m not sure that he will have the ability to immerse himself in housing policy as he will need to in the beginning.
Council of Large Public Housing Authorities:
CLPHA and its members are grateful for Secretary Donovan’s work to initiate and implement the Rental Assistance Demonstration, which enables housing authorities to leverage private capital to modernize, rehabilitate, and replace aging or obsolete properties. Additionally, he has been a strong supporter of the Moving to Work expansion and was instrumental in committing HUD resources to develop a stakeholder agreement that would allow more housing authorities the flexibility to address local needs through local innovations. Understanding the importance of stable and affordable housing for all, Secretary Donovan has also worked closely with other federal agencies to end homelessness. CLPHA also expects that he will bring to OMB the commitment to interagency cooperation that he demonstrated at HUD and execute his vision of streamlining.
CLPHA welcomes the announcement of Mayor Castro to replace Secretary Donovan at the head of HUD. His experience as mayor of San Antonio gives him a keen understanding of metropolitan issues. Through his work to support San Antonio’s Choice Neighborhood, Promise Neighborhood, and now Promise Zone designation, he has proven himself a champion not only of neighborhood revitalization and affordable housing but also of positive life outcomes in education, health, and employment. The mayor has been a strong partner with the San Antonio Housing Authority.
Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia:
Mayors have the greatest direct impact on the lives of their citizens and the greatest responsibility to get things done. Mayor Castro, with his enterprising and proactive approach to governance, is the embodiment of that can-do spirit and problem-solving know-how, making him an excellent choice by President Obama for U.S. secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
As mayor of a major metropolitan area, Mayor Castro understands the importance of affordable housing and community development projects to strengthening local economies, improving the overall quality of life and building inclusive and sustainable communities.
Under Mayor Castro’s leadership, San Antonio was one of only five cities nationwide to receive a federal Promise Zone designation to build on its Choice Neighborhood grants and improve housing and educational opportunities on the East Side of Antonio. He has led revitalization efforts citywide, and by the end of 2014 nearly 2,500 new housing will be built in downtown San Antonio.
Kevin Kelly, chairman, National Association of Home Builders:
Upon his confirmation to the Cabinet post, NAHB looks forward to working with Mr. Castro to promote policies that will ensure stable and liquid mortgage markets for single-family and multifamily housing and to address the many challenges that face our industry, including persistently tight credit conditions that are preventing qualified buyers from obtaining home loans.”
Terri Ludwig, president and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners:
Enterprise’s longstanding partnerships with HUD are essential to building communities of opportunity across the country, and we applaud President Obama on his choice of Julián Castro as the next secretary. We eagerly anticipate working with Mr. Castro as we continue our mission to ensure every person has a decent, affordable home in a thriving community connected to jobs, schools, healthcare, and transportation.
We further congratulate departing Secretary Shaun Donovan as he moves to his new role as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in that capacity. He has been an invaluable public servant and ally, both as the current HUD secretary and previously as commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and we thank him for his continued support.
At Enterprise, our work depends on the dedication of committed public officials like Shaun Donovan and Julián Castro who believe that a stable home is the key to a life of opportunity. Enterprise encourages speedy U.S. Senate confirmations and looks forward to continued collaboration as we begin our company's ambitious goal of providing opportunity to one million low-income families through quality affordable housing.
AHF also had an early look at what the changes may mean for the industry.