Despite the evaporation of $6 trillion in asset-based wealth (read: home values), there will still be a great need for housing—and, specifically, multifamily and affordable housing—in the future, emphasized former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros during a keynote address at the Apartment Finance Today Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., last week .
The positive message resonated with the audience, which included owners, managers, developers, lenders, and equity providers in the apartment space. Looking at demographics, Cisneros said, multifamily will be a vital component of both the recovery and the housing industry of the future. He pointed to echo boomers and the general aging of the population but paid special attention to the Latino and immigrant demographic, which has historically and will continue to be a large renter population.
That’s not to say challenges don’t exist now, Cisneros added. “The effect of the foreclosure crisis before us will be a continuous assault on consumer confidence,” he said.
Cisneros discussed the solutions being offered as part of Washington, D.C.’s recovery plan and showed great faith in current HUD Secretary Shuan Donovan and his team, many of whom, including Donovan, came from a multifamily background. “The current HUD administration will be able to achieve a more balanced housing policy,” he said.
During his remarks, Cisneros discussed some of the specific policy measures being pursued by Obama’s chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers and others in the cabinet. Their key priorities? Job creation, infrastructure improvement, energy efficiency, and stability in the financial markets. Those four areas will signal the greatest growth areas and opportunities in the coming months and years, Cisneros emphasized.
Ultimately, he praised the audience for doing the noble work of providing people with homes. “There are people who do more profound work,” he said. “Doctors heal people. Ministers help people stay on the right path. And teachers impart knowledge. But in the fabric of life, there are few other things as important or critically vital to people than their homes—it’s where they will put their heads at night and raise their families.”