WSJ: 1 New HUD Chief, 3 Big Questions

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new secretary, Julian Castro, may be a political “rising star” and future vice presidential hopeful, but he faces three distinct challenges at hand, writes the Wall Street Journal in a recent column on Castro’s confirmation.

Castro, who was confirmed by the Senate last week, will fill the shoes of former HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, who served in his HUD post for more than five years and will move to a new role with the Office of Management and Budget. He is former mayor of San Antonio and is no stranger to the many issues housing faces today.

But boiling the issues down to three major challenges, the WSJ asks questions that will likely confront the fledgling secretary upon his first days and weeks in the position.

First, how will he aid the country in transitioning from a national housing crisis to an uneven recovery? Second, how will HUD expand mortgage availability, especially among first-time homebuyers? And third, will he take on a major role in the overhaul of the American housing system?

To the first, Urban Institute senior fellow and former Obama Administration advisor Jim Parrott says Castro is likely to focus on the underserved markets that have fallen behind in the recovery.

“At the national level, the challenge is to reignite momentum for the recovery by shoring up demand,” he told the WSJ. “At a local level, it is to help those communities still struggling with acute distress break the vicious cycle of negative equity, foreclosures and stagnant home prices.”

Second, steps are underway to help homebuyers, although the success of a new major pilot program to aid first time homebuyers remains to be seen. And finally, Castro’s role as a leader is likely to be tested early in his tenure at HUD with housing legislation introduced by Sens. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) not yet passed, but still under consideration during an election year.

Read the WSJ article.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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