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Opinion, commentary, and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
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Fact is, no one knows anything about former HUD secretaries

Here’s what you missed about Julián Castro as he leaves office

January 6, 2017

How many Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries have there been total? 15? 19? 17? 16?

The correct answer: 16. But don’t worry if you got it wrong, you’re far from alone.  Only 24% of people got the question correct on a recent HousingWire quiz

The nomination of Ben Carson as HUD Secretary brought a lot of attention, and skepticism, to a role that has long operated out of the limelight.    

While many people did not expect the former GOP presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon to get selected as HUD Secretary, Health and Human Services secretary or Education secretary maybe, but definitely not HUD Secretary, he brought attention to a department that could use more recognition, and everyone had an opinion on the surprising choice.

But before people went about speculating on the future of HUD, I decided to test them out to even see if they know anything about the history of HUD secretaries.

And fact is no one knows anything about the history of HUD secretaries.

The 17-question quiz received an average score of 42% out of the 679 people who took the quiz. That’s nowhere near passing.

Here are the answers to the 5 questions people struggled the most with:

  • How many HUD secretaries were Democratic and Republican?
    • Answer: 8 democratic and 8 republican. Only 18% of people got this question right
  • Which HUD secretary served the longest term?
    • Answer: Samuel Pierce. Only 24% of people got this question right.
  • Which HUD secretary was the first African American to be appointed to a U.S. cabinet-level position?
    • Answer: Robert Weaver. Only 25% of people got this question right.
  • How many HUD secretaries have there been total?
    • Answer(as seen above): 16. Only 24% of people got this question right.
  • Who was the first African American woman to head a cabinet department?
    • Answer: Patricia Roberts Harris. Only 30% of people got this question right.

So now that’s clear no one has a clue about the past HUD secretaries, here’s a quick run-down of current HUD Secretary Julián Castro’s time in office before he exits. This way you can at least say you know something about the current HUD secretary.

After a year in office, Castro published this photo overview of his first year on Medium titled, “Julián Castro: 365 Days at the Department of Opportunity.”

His year was filled with events and announcements such as visiting New Orleans on the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, announcing the Federal Housing Administration’s Mortgage Insurance Premium reduction and celebrating HUD’s  50th Anniversary.  

And once again, at the end of 2016, Castro published another update on medium, giving a progress report of the department for the year.

Below are a couple key monthly highlights:

July 2016: Closing the digital divide

In today’s 21st century global economy, access to high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. But millions of Americans still fall on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Last July, HUD launched ConnectHome, a bold new initiative to accelerate internet adoption among families in HUD-assisted housing. ConnectHome recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and we’re so proud of all that we’ve already accomplished. ConnectHome has grown from a pilot of 28 communities to a nationwide effort that can reach 43 states and hundreds of thousands of residents in public housing — and we’ll keep working to extend 21st century opportunity to even more Americans.

September 2016: Housing Market Recovery

When President Obama first took office, our nation’s housing market was in crisis. Home values were plummeting, foreclosure rates had reached their highest point in history, and many Americans found it impossible to get a loan and realize their dreams of homeownership.

Since then, the market has experienced a remarkable turnaround, and I’m proud of the role HUD played in this recovery. In September, I traveled to Ft. Meyers, Florida, the community known as the “ground zero” of the housing crash, to reflect on all the progress our nation has made under this Administration.

HUD remains committed to working with state and local governments, community organizations and the private sector to ensure sustainable growth in housing and the rest of the economy.

Catsro’s days at HUD are quickly coming to a close though, with Carson’s confirmation hearing set for Jan. 12, and pending any complications, Castro will leave his position come inauguration day on Jan. 20.

For a full overview of The Obama Administration’s time at HUD, check here

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