San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has been nominated to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by President Obama.
Shaun Donovan, who has been HUD secretary since 2009, has been tapped to be director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“I’m hoping for a quick confirmation,” Obama said during the nomination announcement Friday.
The president cited Castro’s work in revitalizing San Antonio and planning thousands of units in the city’s downtown.
“He’s become a leader in housing and economic development,” Obama said.
San Antonio leaders have successfully directed federal attention and dollars to the city. San Antonio recently earned a Choice Neighborhoods grant from HUD, and it's among the first cities taking part in the Promise Zone Initiative that aims to create better neighborhoods.
Castro, 39, is a rising star in the Democrat Party, and the national post is expected to help boost his profile. His twin brother is U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.
“After five years as mayor of my hometown, I know this much: We are in a century of cities. America’s cities are growing again, and housing is at the top of the agenda,” Castro said. “I look forward to being part of a department that will help ensure millions of Americans all across the country have the chance to get good, safe, affordable housing and to reach their American dreams.”
Obama detailed how Castro’s grandmother came to the United States from Mexico, working as a maid, cook, and babysitter to keep a roof over her family’s head. “That’s because for her, and generations of Americans like her, a home is more than just a house,” Obama said. “Home is a source of pride and security.”
Castro, whose mother used to work for the San Antonio Housing Authority, has lived the American dream, and he’ll work to make sure more people travel that same path, Obama said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Castro will take over the HUD post from Donovan, who has been the housing chief throughout the Obama administration. During the announcement, the president praised the housing secretary for his work, saying few had a tougher job than he did when taking office.
Five years later, the number of new foreclosures is down by nearly half, and home sales are up nearly 35 percent, Obama said, adding that Donovan took over an agency with a $40 billion budget and made it smarter and more efficient.
The president also said Donovan, 48, rose to the challenge of being the administration’s point person on the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
“Here’s the problem: When you’re good at your job, people always want you to do even more,” Obama said. “That’s why today I’m nominating Shaun to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.”
Donovan made light of his own reputation as a “numbers guy.”
“At HUD, I often hear groans when I ask to see a spreadsheet that someone is holding at a meeting,” Donovan said. “If confirmed, I’ll be glad to go to a place where my love of spreadsheets will finally be embraced.”
The budget, he continued, is not about numbers but “about our values and our future.”
Prior to joining HUD, Donovan was head of New York City's Housing Preservation & Development Department. Many people in the affordable housing industry were thrilled at having someone with a strong housing background at the HUD helm. They're now hoping that he will bring a deeper understanding of HUD and its budget needs to his new role at OMB.
Donovan offered his congratulations to Castro, saying he is fortunate to be joining the HUD team. “I will miss everything about working with them,” he said.
Read what affordable housing leaders say about the leadership change.
Read Henry Cisneros' comments about Julian Castro and HUD.
Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF