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Henry Cisneros Takes on Affordable Housing

Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros Speaks at UC Riverside About Affordable Housing

The Tomás Rivera Public Lecture honors a beloved former Chancellor

(April 17, 2006)

Henry CisnerosEnlarge

Henry Cisneros

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and now the chairman of CityView companies, will give the Tomás Rivera Public Lecture at the University of California, Riverside at 6 p.m. Friday, April 21 in University Theatre.

His topic is “Sustaining the Middle Class in America: Bringing Consciousness to Building Affordable Housing for the Working Class.” A reception will follow. Parking for the event is free.

As one of the most recognizable Latino names in U.S. politics and business, Cisneros is an appropriate choice for the first Tomás Rivera Public Lecture, an event that continues a campus tradition of honoring Rivera, who led the campus from 1979 until his death in 1984. He was the first Hispanic chancellor in the UC system. Widely credited with paving the way for Chicanos and Latinos in higher education, Rivera inspired financial gifts that now fund an endowed faculty position, held by poet Juan Felipe Herrera. The endowment is also paying for the lecture.

“Poetry and housing might not seem linked, but creativity is the lifeblood of cities,” Herrera said. “Downtowns need affordable housing and they need cultural resources, and they especially need government and private enterprise working together creatively to solve problems.”

Concepción “Concha” Rivera, the widow of Tomás, said she chose Henry Cisneros as the speaker because he is such a role model for young Latinos. “He was a mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, he was a cabinet member for President Clinton, and he is an inventive and effective businessman,” she said. “Henry was a great supporter of Tomás and myself. I feel very honored, humbled and blessed to call him my friend.”

Cisneros credits Chancellor Rivera with inspiring him to persevere through struggles. “We all need role models, and Tomás was one of mine,” Cisneros said. “His poetry, his heart and his rise as an academic despite heavy odds against him inspired the generations that followed after him. He was a great man and I am honored to be giving a lecture in his memory on a subject that would have been of interest to him — affordable housing for working people.”

In 1981, Cisneros was the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio, Texas. During his four terms in office, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements, marking San Antonio as one of the nation’s most progressive cities.

From 1993 to 1997, Cisneros served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros was assigned America’s housing and community development portfolio. He is credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments and with formulating policies which have contributed to today’s record homeownership rate.

He spent three years as chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the Spanish-language broadcaster. And now he is Chairman of the CityView companies, which work with the nation’s leading homebuilders to create “villages within cities,” priced within the range of average families. CityView has offices in San Antonio and Santa Monica to identify sites, plan neighborhoods, organize and develop land, and finance the building of homes.

During his long and varied professional career, Cisneros has been considered as a vice-presidential candidate, been named “Outstanding Mayor” in the nation by City and State magazine and has served as a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation.

He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University. He earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, a doctorate in Public Administration from George Washington University, and has been awarded over 20 honorary doctorates from leading universities.

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