Julián Castro is ending his run as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on a positive note, releasing a final memo to the American people that deems housing a “platform for opportunity.”
The memo calls attention to some of HUD’s top housing-related accomplishments, including its efforts to stabilize the post-Great Recession market; help homeowners who lost their properties in Hurricane Sandy, floods, and other natural disasters; and give public housing residents access to high-speed internet through the ConnectHome program.
“We stabilized a housing market in crisis and then,” Castro says, “through the Federal Housing Administration, stepped up lending to responsible borrowers while increasing capital reserves and lowering mortgage insurance premiums. We developed public-private partnerships to preserve affordable housing. We affirmed the Fair Housing Act’s basic principle of desegregated communities and protected housing opportunities for all. And conscious of the damage climate change is wreaking on our homes and infrastructure, we invested more than $18 billion in communities recovering from natural disasters and initiated a $1 billion competition for resilient housing and infrastructure projects, and unlocked access to Property Accessed Clean Energy financing so that the thousands of American’s that chose an FHA-backed mortgage each day can make energy efficiency improvements on their homes at no upfront cost.”
HUD also worked with the Department of Justice and 49 state attorneys general to protect homeowners from mortgage fraud during the financial crisis. The result was a $25 billion agreement in 2012 with the country’s five largest lenders, providing relief to millions of homeowners across the country.
It’s these types of acts, along with many others, that make HUD the “Department of Opportunity,” Castro says.
“Everything we did in the last eight years was oriented to bring greater opportunity to the people we serve every day,” he said.
President Obama’s administration also has many things to be proud of, Castro says.
“Through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), the Hardest-Hit Fund, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), the Obama Administration’s efforts stabilized the economy by providing a critical lifeline to more than 10 million distressed homeowners,” Castro said. “These efforts paid off—Americans built nearly $7 trillion in housing wealth since 2009. Today, home values in many housing markets are fully recovered, and more people are once again turning to homeownership to build equity for themselves and their families.”
But despite the many things that have been accomplished over President Obama’s eight and Castro’s nearly three years in office, Castro says there is still work to be done.
“Much has been accomplished during the Obama Administration, but new challenges are on the horizon, including a severely aging public housing stock and an affordable housing crisis in many areas of the country,” Castro said. “Just as HUD provided necessary reinforcement to the housing market during the latest economic crisis, this vital Department will be crucial to the continued improvement of the American economy and the security of millions of Americans in the years to come.”
Castro has been the HUD Secretary since July 2014, and his tenure in that position is expected to end after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20. If he is confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Ben Carson will be the next HUD Secretary.
(Editor's note: DS News sat down with Castro for an exclusive interview in February 2016. Click here to read the cover story in the March 2016 edition of DS News to see how Castro viewed his accomplishments as HUD Secretary at that time).