Latinos Will Drive the Next Housing Boom
In this 2008 interview, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros talks about predictions of an urban renaissance.
Henry Cisneros is passionate about the future of housing and American cities. He sees an urban renaissance on the horizon as builders and developers focus on inner-city opportunities. Having served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton and as mayor of San Antonio, Texas, he knows what he’s talking about.
The combination of public-housing renovation, New Urbanism, smart growth, “entrepreneurial” city governments, and “investments by anchor institutions” is making cities more attractive to the growing minority middle class. Crime reduction and creative school solutions continue to nourish this movement. Latinos are expected to account for 40% of all new-home buyers in the next 20 years. “Whoever in the housing industry ignores this trend, or actually resists it because they philosophically don’t agree with it, is going to find themselves in peril,” Cisneros says. Minority populations, specifically Latinos, will drive the housing boom and urban renaissance that Cisneros describes.
• Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, 1981-88
• Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1994-97
• Partner in CityView (www.cityview.net), an investment company that finances home builders who create quality housing for working families
So how can this renaissance bloom? Cisneros has three wishes:
“First, I wish for a strong economy like the one I had the honor of being associated with on President Clinton’s watch, which was the longest economic expansion in our country’s history, during which we saw lower interest rates, higher job formations, higher small-business creations, lowering poverty rates, stronger labor markets, and the highest homeownership rate in American history. I would wish for that to be a more-permanent part of the American economy because when that happens, it’s a precondition for the cities to do well. You’ve got to have low interest rates, you’ve got to have that investment incentive, you’ve got to have those tight labor markets so employers are hiring down lower into populations that they wouldn’t otherwise address.”
“Secondly, I would wish that the economy works for our emerging populations. We know our minority populations are going to be large on the American scene, but the question is are they going to be productive, well educated, creative, employed, ambitious, and rewarded for their skills? I would wish for an economy that reached these new and emergent populations so that they provide the impetus for the next generation of American progress, so that they fill in behind traditional populations that are aging.”
“My third wish would have to be for builders to understand the opportunities posed by new populations in our nation’s cities and to be creative enough and imaginative enough to design our neighborhoods, our homes, in such a way that American cities are livable, so they’re places to work, learn, places to play, and places to live. The marketplace creates these opportunities, and then people who are naturally inclined to be good designers and bring their skills to cities do it. And I think that’s what we’re seeing: a bigger critical mass of people who will be designing green, building more densely, constructing homes near mass transportation, who are developing mixed-use and mixed-income projects. … I’m hopeful that that’s what we’ll see.”
Photo: Courtesy of CityView