Castro acknowledged the importance of the multifamily industry in meeting critical housing needs, the growing list of industry challenges and his priorities for addressing them. He also revealed that many of the industry's issues have become all too real to him, as he recently became a renter upon taking his new position with HUD.
The added bonus was that he revealed he was renting in a Gables community, eliciting a big round of applause from NMHC members and a warm welcome and thank you from Gables CEO Sue Ansel, who was in the audience.
"It's time for folks to take a brighter view of rental housing," Castro said.
With the overarching goal of adding more affordable units to the rental housing stock, Castro said the department was working to find ways to be more efficient and offset shrinking program budgets and limited resources. In particular, Castro said he was focused on continuing to reduce loan processing delays through an organizational restructuring and eliminating obstacles related to the department's low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) pilot program.
Moreover, Castro said he would be working to help the industry "think outside the box" on issues like RAD and risk sharing. "Our nation's public housing is falling apart," he said. "We are losing 10,000 units of public housing to disrepair every year."
However, given the overwhelming capital improvement needs, preserving public housing is tough in this strained fiscal environment. "The answer is RAD [Rental Assistance Demonstration program]," Castro said. "We have applications for 180,000 units. But the challenge is we only have authority for 60,000 units. We have asked Congress to expand authority."
Castro also said he supported the Johnson-Crapo housing reform bill in that, if passed, it would establish a National Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing, calling it an "unprecedented opportunity that we cannot let go to waste."
He added that the department would be looking for more ways to promote clean technology, highlighting the Administration's expansion of the Better Buildings Challenge to multifamily.
"I, and those of us at HUD, want to work with you," Castro told NMHC members. "We share a common goal: We want to see to it that there is more housing out there. And that there is a rental unit out there that fits someone's needs."
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