In an exclusive interview, HUD Secretary Julian Castro talks about the Obama administration's housing legacy.
Q: Do you think the Obama administration's housing legacy will be more about how the administration helped heal the market in the wake of the mortgage crisis or how it broadened housing opportunity for very low- and modest-income Americans?
A: Both of those efforts are critical pieces of our nation's housing recovery story. We all know that when President Obama first took office back in January of 2009, there wasn't much to celebrate about our nation's housing market. Home values were plummeting, foreclosures were skyrocketing and construction companies had stopped building. Under President Obama's leadership, Americans have built back roughly $7 trillion in housing wealth since 2009.
New safeguards have also been put in place to prevent the kind of abuses that led to our nation's housing crisis. In addition, the president and HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] have made a number of new investments and commitments to expand housing opportunity to more Americans. In just the past year through FHA [the Federal Housing Administration], more than 1.1 million Americans were able to purchase or keep their homes because we made mortgage insurance premiums more affordable.
Q: This administration has significantly broadened the notion of what falls under the category of housing policy. Having HUD spearhead things like bringing the internet to housing developments qualifies as thinking outside the box when it comes to traditional HUD programs. Celebrating HUD's National Father's Day throughout the month of June is another innovative step. What are some of the most innovative things that HUD has done in this administration to broaden what is typically thought of as housing policy?
A: Housing is more than four walls and a roof--it's a platform for growth and opportunity. That means that where you live shapes how you live. At HUD, we believe that every person deserves to have a safe, stable place to call home. Through efforts like ConnectHome, Promise Zones, the Rental Assistance Demonstration and the National Disaster Resilience Competition, HUD is leveraging public-private partnerships to ensure that every American lives in a resilient, inclusive community of opportunity where they can reach their full potential. These efforts may not fit "inside the box" when it comes to traditional housing policy, but...