Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today named Mathew M. Wambua Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Wambua will replace Rafael E. Cestero, who will leave public service at the end of March as previously announced. Wambua will become Commissioner on April 4th. Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement in the Blue Room of City Hall, where he was joined by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, New York City Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr, Cestero and Wambua.
"We're two-thirds of the way through completing the most ambitious affordable housing plan underway anywhere in the nation, and Mat's leadership, intelligence and financial acumen will help us meet our goals," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Throughout the country, difficult economic conditions and strained budgets forced cities to slash plans for affordable housing developments, but in New York City we've stayed on track - and even increased our total investments - thanks to smart and innovative financial planning. Mat played an important role in that effort for us already, and I'm confident in his ability to achieve the same kind of success as HPD Commissioner."
"Throughout his tenure in public service, Mat has overseen the development of major initiatives from concept to reality, enhanced his real estate finance expertise while working on some of the largest and most complicated deals anywhere in the nation, and forged relationships with leaders in the City's housing advocacy community," said Deputy Mayor Steel. "All of it will serve him extremely well as HPD Commissioner. HPD builds affordable housing, helps New Yorkers avoid foreclosure, enforces the housing code and - when necessary - makes emergency repairs, and it takes a steady hand to lead the organization successfully. Mat is extremely well-suited for that role."
"HPD is recognized as the best municipal housing agency in the country, and I am honored to be asked by Mayor Bloomberg to take the helm," said Wambua. "I will be joining a team that boasts some of the best housing professionals anywhere. I am well aware that I am riding the wake of some very talented and visionary leaders. Over the years, they have been my colleagues, mentors and friends. Having worked side-by-side with Shaun Donovan and Rafael Cestero in creating and implementing the Mayor's New Housing Marketplace Plan, I am looking forward to taking on this new responsibility of leading HPD and bringing the housing plan to the finish line."
Wambua has served in the Bloomberg Administration since 2002. In 2008, he took on the responsibility of Executive Vice President of New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), one of the nation's largest issuers of multi-family affordable housing bonds and a finance arm of HPD. At HDC, Wambua managed several departments, including Administration, Real Estate Lending and Development, Asset Management, Information Technology, Communications, Intergovernmental Relations and Human Resources. He oversaw the underwriting and financing of more than 36,000 affordable housing units and the restructuring and streamlining of HDC's Asset Management Division. Previously, he served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Mayor's Office, reporting to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, where he oversaw a portfolio of agencies, including HPD, HDC, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Rent Guidelines Board and others. In that capacity, he helped lead some of the Administration's most significant development initiatives in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx.
Prior to his public service, Wambua worked at GE Capital Commercial Real Estate, Arthur Andersen and the Partnership for New York City. He has taught commercial real estate finance as an adjunct professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and managerial economics as an adjunct professor at New School University's Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy.
The replacement search was led by Nathan Leventhal, chairman of the Mayor's Committee on Appointments, and Andrea Shapiro Davis, Special Advisor to the Mayor.
HPD is charged with developing and preserving affordable housing through a variety of programs in areas like new construction, foreclosure prevention, housing code enforcement and emergency repair of privately owned occupied buildings. As the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the nation, HPD supports the repair, rehabilitation and new construction of hundreds of thousands of units of housing. HPD is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg's $8.4 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to create and preserve more than 165,000 homes and apartments in neighborhoods. Since July 2004, HPD, along with its for-profit and not-for-profit partners, has begun construction or renovation of 112,000 affordable housing units.
In January 2011, Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and HPD launched the Proactive Preservation Initiative, a new, aggressive approach to identify and address deteriorating physical conditions in multifamily buildings throughout the City before they reach a state that endangers the health and safety of residents and threatens the quality of the surrounding neighborhood. Instead of waiting for residents to call 311, the initiative will enable the City to identify and address buildings preemptively, and the City expects to use it to put roughly 500 distressed buildings on a path to stability over the next 12 months.
In February 2011, Mayor Bloomberg and HPD unveiled the development plan for Hunter's Point South, the most individual significant component of the City's affordable housing plan and the largest new affordable housing complex to be built in New York City since the 1970s. The first phase of the Queens waterfront complex includes two mixed-use buildings comprising more than 900 housing units and roughly 20,000 square feet of new retail space. At least 75 percent of the housing will be permanently targeted to low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The first phase, which will be completed in 2014, also includes five acres of new waterfront parkland and a new 1,100-seat intermediate and high school.
Wambua graduated with a bachelor degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. He currently serves on the boards of N10nt Foundation, which promotes autism awareness and provides related services in developing countries, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, son and daughter.