• Moe Vela stands near the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Friday, January 9, 2009.

    Credit: Stephen Voss / WpN

    Moe Vela stands near the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Friday, January 9, 2009.

Since 2004, Moises (Moe) Vela Jr. has poured his heart and soul into helping the housing industry meet the distinct needs and desires of the rapidly growing—and often underserved—Hispanic market segment. Now, he’s traded his position as a partner at the multifamily firm The Comunidades Group for an office connected to the West Wing, where he serves as director of administration for the office of the vice president.

“As a Hispanic, to be able to serve in the administration of the first African-American president of this nation means more to me than words can ever describe,” Vela says. “This is my chance to show kids that you can come from a small town in Texas, be chubby and bald, and still end up at the White House.”

This isn’t Vela’s first trip to Pennsylvania Avenue. From 1996 to 2000, he served as chief financial officer and senior advisor on Hispanic affairs for Vice President Al Gore. Vela plans to continue his Hispanic outreach efforts under Joe Biden.

He also expects outreach to flourish at Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Comunidades despite his absence. “The foundation has been set at my company, and when I was offered this appointment I thought it was the right time to be able to leave what I had started in the hands of my partners.” Comunidades is off to a strong start: Roughly six months ago, the firm purchased a Class C rental complex outside Atlanta and has improved occupancy by 15 percent and reduced turnover by 50 percent by customizing the community to meet Hispanics’ needs.