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The Honorable Henry Cisneros, The Honorable Mel Martinez,
The Honorable
Steve Preston, and The Honorable
Shaun Donovan

No fewer than four Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were surrounded by a number of fellow representatives of the housing industry at the 2011 ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing Awards Gala, held September 21, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

A ceremony honoring former HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros as a “transformational leader” included presentations by current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Mel Martinez, who served not only as HUD Secretary but also as a U.S. Senator and is now a chairman of JPMorgan Chase. Also in attendance was former HUD Secretary Steve Preston. The evening also included presentation of the Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Awards and the Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Award.

Univision, the Spanish-language television network headed by Cisneros after he left HUD in 1997, produced a video that included a statement from former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Cisneros as HUD Secretary in 1993.

In recalling the many-faceted career of Cisneros, Donovan and others noted that the hallmark of his housing industry leadership was HOPE VI, widely perceived as the most successful urban regeneration initiative pursued by the federal government in recent years. Cisneros played a central role in shaping and influencing this program, which has replaced superblocks of failed public housing projects housing the poorest of the poor—like Chicago’s Cabrini-Green—with traditional street grids, small-scale housing units, and economically integrated mixed-use development.

Speakers agreed that Cisneros doesn’t just “talk the talk,” but also “walks the walk,” installing dozens of computer terminals in his San Antonio, Texas, home and making them available to local children for after-school study. While visiting public housing projects as HUD Secretary, he often would stay overnight in residents’ apartments, getting a first-hand look at real-life living conditions.

Cisneros himself said that while he enjoyed the opportunity to chair Univision after leaving government service, he felt compelled to return to his roots: to San Antonio, where he served as mayor in the 1980s, and to furthering the cause of affordable housing—a goal he is fulfilling by chairing CityView, which has financed more than $2 billion in residential and commercial development to date.

ULI’s Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Awards honored two New York City developments, one in Seattle, and another in Haverhill, Massachusetts:

Columbia Commons/Columbia Hicks Apartments, a six-story multifamily development in the affluent Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, has 95 affordable rental units and 46 condominiums designed to be affordable to first-time homebuyers with conforming loans.

 

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 BraunsteinCisneros_3_351 On the Park, developed by Security Properties in Seattle, Washington’s Ballard neighborhood, replaced an aging grocery store and parking lot with 268 apartments and a new 45,000-square-foot (4,185-sq-m) supermarket on the ground floor; 54 of the apartments are designated affordable, with rent payments including basic utilities.

 

Jonathan Rose Companies teamed up with Lettire Construction to create Tapestry in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood, just one block from Harlem’s commercial and cultural corridor on 125th Street. All of the rental apartments in this 12-story Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified building are affordable to local residents, including workforce families.  BraunsteinCisneros_2_250
 BraunsteinCisneros_4_351 The Hayes at Railroad Square in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is an innovative rehabilitation of two old contiguous mills by an affiliate of the Archdiocese of Boston. Located just one block from a commuter rail station providing access to downtown Boston, the Hayes has 57 one- and two-bedroom flats and duplexes leased at two price points: affordable and moderate/market rate.

Finally, the ULI Terwilliger Center introduced its first-ever Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Award, recognizing an exemplary state or local government that provides ongoing and sustainable support for the production, rehabilitation, or preservation of workforce housing. San Jose, California, won the award by implementing a comprehensive and innovative series of programs over the past 20 years that leverage government resources, private funds, and nonprofit partnerships to maximize the creation of workforce housing opportunities in one of the nation’s costliest communities.

San Jose’s efforts have focused on new construction, multifamily and single-family rehabilitation and preservation, and homebuyer assistance. These policies have facilitated the creation of more than 20,000 housing units, more than half of which are affordable to workforce households, and nearly all of which are located within a half mile of public transportation.