This afternoon at the 2014 Housing Summit in DC sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center, former U.S. Congressman Rick Lazio moderated a panel of five former HUD Secretaries. With representation dating back to the Ford Administration, the former heads of our nation's largest housing agency reflected on their terms in Washington as well as the future of housing policy.
Each former HUD Secretary was asked what would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?
Former Secretary Henry Cisneros (1993-1997): Put more effort into homelessness. Think about how to take care of tenants in HOPE VI developments that were coming down. On the topic of homeownership, it was the right thing to do to move the minority homeownership rate higher, but we could not forsee the hijacking of the goal by the subprime vehicles and toxicity.
Former Secretary Alphonso Jackson (2004-2008): Would have spent more time developing talent: some of the individuals at the end of his tenure made great strides.
Former Secretary Carla Hills (1975-1977): Spend a lot of time with the elected members of Congress. Get the politicians to work with you; it makes all the difference in the world.
Former Secretary Mel Martinez (2001-2003): Have relationships on both sides of the aisle. He wishes he had been more persuasive about reforming the GSEs because they contributed greatly to the financial crisis.
Former Secretary Steven Preston (2008-2009): You must understand the complexities of the mortgage market prior to trying to regulate it.