Obama: “All-star” Julián Castro to lead HUD

Capitol building angle view

President Barack Obama officially nominated San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in a ceremony on Friday afternoon. “I am nominating another all-star who’s done a fantastic job in San Antonio over the last five years,” Obama said.

The other all-star that the President was referring to is Shaun Donovan, the current HUD secretary.

Donovan has been a member of President Obama’s cabinet since Obama took office in 2008. “When we took office in 2008, every member of my cabinet had a tough job in front of them,” Obama said Friday. “Few had a tougher job that Shaun Donovan. Five years later, things look a lot different. But we’re not anywhere close to where we need to be yet.”

Obama noted the “millions of families that have been able to come up for air” during Donovan’s tenure of HUD. “Over the years, Shaun has taken an agency with a $40 billion budget and made it smarter and more efficient,” Obama said. “He’s helped build strong sustainable neighborhoods. He’s helped 4.3 million families buy their piece of the American dream.”

Citing Donovan’s “outstanding work” during his time at HUD, President Obama nominated Donovan to the post of Director of the Office of Management and Budget, which opened the post for Castro. “I’m absolutely confident that he’ll do a great job as head of OMB,” Obama said.

“We also need someone to continue Shaun’s good work at HUD,” the President said. “And that public servant is Julián Castro.”

Obama joked that many Americans became familiar with the “good-looking” Castro during the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The President also joked that Castro was a “pretty good speaker,” perhaps in a nod to the two men’s similarities as charismatic public speakers.

“He’s been focused on revitalizing one of our greatest cities and has become a leader in housing and economic development,” Obama said of Castro.

Castro, the three-term mayor of San Antonio, called the nomination “quite an honor” in his remarks. “To be your nominee is simply a blessing,” Castro said. “I stand of the shoulders of so many folks of the past generations.”

Castro cited his and his brother’s experience going from growing up in rental housing in San Antonio to eventually becoming nationally known public servants as something that gave the brothers a “sense of what’s possible.”

Castro’s twin brother Joaquin now represents Texas’s 20th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Castro also said that “we are in a century of cities” and said that housing was “at the top of the agenda” going forward. “We need to ensure that we have good, safe, affordable housing for everyone so they can all achieve their American dreams,” Castro said.

Donovan thanked the “outstanding team” at HUD for their work in his time as HUD secretary. “The HUD team is made up of extraordinary public servants,” Donovan said.

Donovan called himself a “numbers guy” who often asks to see spreadsheets that his colleagues at HUD are reviewing. “I’m happy to go to a place where my love of spreadsheets will be embraced,” he said.

President Obama said that he is hoping for a “quick confirmation” for both Donovan and Castro. “I hope that the Senate confirms them both without games or delay,” he added.

Prior to Castro’s official nomiation, analysts from Compass Point said that they did not anticpate a strategic shift when Castro takes over at HUD. “Our conversations lead us to believe that Castro is unlikely to deviate materially from the existing FHA single-family strategy,” said Compass Point analyst Isaac Boltansky. “The potential impact of the leadership change at HUD is admittedly an unknown at this junction but there is little reason – either political or fundamental – to expect a MIP reduction prior to 2015.”

The National Association of Home Builders greeted Castro’s nomination positively. “NAHB congratulates Mayor Castro on his nomination as HUD secretary,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the NAHB. “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.”

Castro’s nomination was also welcomed by the National Council of La Raza, whose president and CEO Janet Murguía, said, “As we have said, the president hit a home run with this nomination. Julian Castro has become a respected and nationally acclaimed leader on urban revitalization and economic development, the issues at the heart of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s work.

“We especially look forward to working with him to complete the department’s unfinished business of alleviating once and for all the housing crisis that continues to affect millions of Americans, especially in communities of color.”

Ben Lane  –  May 23, 2014  5:03PM