A Fresh Set of Eyes

3 min read

San Antonio’s loss may be the nation’s gain.

No, I’m not talking about the San Antonio Spurs; I know they just won the NBA championship, again.

Rather, I’m talking about the real possibility that San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will soon become the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in charge of driving the country’s housing and community development policies.

If confirmed, he will have some big, big shoes to fill (maybe Size 13). Shaun Donovan, HUD’s Secretary since late January 2009, has – along with his enormously smart and talented team – achieved substantial feats. Among these have been structuring and implementing the pioneering Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD) to transform and preserve public housing as affordable assisted housing; speeding up processing of HUD loans for low-income housing tax credit projects under the FHA pilot program; and making sure that all Section 8 contracts get funded (somehow, some way).

For sure, the housing and development communities will sorely miss Shaun Donovan as he moves across town to head the Office of Management and Budget. Still, every major post can always benefit from a fresh set of eyes, enthusiasm, and new ideas.

Julián Castro seems to be the right pick at the right time to succeed Donovan at HUD. As we describe this month (“A New Leader at HUD,” p. 31), he has been a visionary mayor with relentless follow-through, harnessing ideas and talent from all corners of the community and crafting development incentives that are generating new housing – for all income levels – throughout the city. He is also spearheading the transformation of San Antonio’s downtown into an appealing place to live, work, and play. At HUD, Castro will have a national forum for his ideas and priorities.

And, while it’s exciting to design and develop new housing, especially affordable rentals, effective property management of the assets already in the ground is equally important. Accordingly, we drill down this month to identify some of the keys to successful management of LIHTC developments (“Driving the Dollars,” p. 24). For all of you on the front lines in this profession, the industry owes you a huge measure of thanks.

Finally, we report on the recent awards of new markets tax credit allocation authority by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund in the program’s 11th funding round (“And the Winner Is,” p. 39). For the third straight round of awards, the allocatees plan to utilize a larger share of their fresh NMTC proceeds to finance businesses rather than real estate projects – a trend sharply accelerated this year.

It may be the beginning of summer, but there are a number of exciting things going on inside and outside of Washington, as we report in this issue. Read away.