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May 23, 2014
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Obama Taps Castro to Lead HUD

Copyright: Gil C/Shutterstock.com

Washington was buzzing this week with news involving the nation’s most powerful housing bureaucrat with President Obama today nominating San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, 39, to become HUD secretary. He would replace current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, 48, who Obama has named director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 

According to numerous reports, part of the reason Castro has been chosen to lead HUD is to help in polishing his political skills when it comes to the issues of poverty and to raise his appeal among the left in preparation for the 2016 presidential race. He is widely considered one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars and has been mentioned frequently as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Hillary Clinton. This should come as no surprise given Castro served as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention – the same role where President Obama himself highlighted his formidable speaking skills in 2004 as a then-Illinois senator before running for president four years later.

If you’re going to read one article about Castro’s background this is it because you get a sense for his likely appeal to the electorate given his Hispanic activist roots that were passed on by his mother. The article also says that he remains a strong supporter of affirmative action because he has seen how it positively impacted his life, and that of his twin brother Representative Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, because they were both accepted into Stanford as a result of the program.

Donovan will replace outgoing OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, 48, who has been tapped to become secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Many experts are saying that he would continue to influence federal housing policy in numerous ways as head of OMB.

“Shaun Donovan going to OMB is perhaps an opportunity to educate the office on how HUD programs work,” said Denise Muha, executive director of the National Leased Housing Association. She provides the often complicated Section 8 rental assistance program as an example.

However, unlike Donovan who had hefty housing credentials prior to becoming HUD secretary, critics contend that Castro has no practical experience in housing although he is clearly a rising political star on the national stage.

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