Former San Antonio Mayor Castro Sworn in as HUD Secretary

Julián Castro’s tenure as mayor of San Antonio should help him in his new role as the 16th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Castro

Julián Castro’s tenure as mayor of San Antonio, the nation’s seventh largest city, should help him in his new role as the 16th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to several housing and mortgage industry officials.

Castro, 39, was sworn in Monday. As HUD secretary, he oversees 8,000 employees and a $46 million budget. He was nominated by President Barack Obama in May and approved by the Senate July 9 by a vote of 71-26.

“We’ve heard wonderful things about him as mayor of San Antonio,” Doug Bibby, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council told Commercial Property Executive. “The fact that he is not a housing expert per se does not bother us. We are heartened by the fact that he is a former chief executive. For a former chief executive to come and run a department as big and sprawling and as complicated as HUD to me is a very good sign. We look at that as a positive.”

While mayor, Castro became known as a national leader in urban development and launched the “Decade of Downtown.” The inititiative attracted $350 million in private sector investment, which is expected to produce more than 2,400 housing units by the end of this year, according to a HUD news release.

“Julián is a proven leader, a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods,” Obama said in a statement after Castro’s confirmation. “I know that together with the dedicated professionals at HUD, Julian will help build on the progress we’ve made battling back from the Great Recession – rebuilding our housing market, reducing homelessness among veterans, and connecting neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs that help our citizens succeed.”

Bibby said his organization looks forward to working with Castro as Congress continues dealing with housing finance reform legislation and the modernization of the Federal Housing Administration.

“As we move to the next phase of housing finance reform, Secretary Castro will be vitally important to that discussion,” Bibby told CPE.

Castro is taking over from Shaun Donovan, who had served as HUD secretary since January 2009. Donovan has been tapped by the President to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“With Castro becoming the next HUD secretary, and Shaun Donovan soon to become the new Director of OMB, the administration will be well positioned to address the important housing policy issues,” David Stevens, president & CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in a statement after the Senate confirmation vote earlier this month. “We look forward to working with both men to help ease access to credit for qualified borrowers and accelerate the housing recovery.”

Terri Ludwig, president & CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a national non-profit that provides capital for affordable housing and development, called Castro “a committed public servant.”

“Our longstanding partnerships with HUD are essential to both building communities of opportunity connected to jobs, schools, healthcare and transportation nationwide, and to our ambitious goal of providing opportunity in one million low-income families through quality affordable housing by 2020,” Ludwig told CPE.

Castro is not the first San Antonio mayor to head up HUD. Former Mayor Henry Cisneros served as HUD secretary from 1993 to 1997 in President Bill Clinton’s administration. Castro was an attorney before turning to politics in San Antonio, where he ran first for the City Council. He received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. Castro is considered a rising star in politics and rose to national prominence after giving the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.