Henry Cisneros
American mayor
Henry Cisneros
Henry Gabriel Cisneros is an American politician and businessman. He came into the national spotlight as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas from 1981 to 1989--the first Hispanic mayor of a major American city. A Democrat, Cisneros served as the 10th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the administration of President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.
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Wolf, David and Martha -- Pull Us Out of the Rabbit Hole
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Tuesday night's Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas will unfold in a swing state that has given its Electoral Votes to every winning President except Jimmy Carter since 1908. Comprising nearly 20 percent of Nevada's electorate and more than 27 percent of its population, Latinos are a crucial part of the fabric of this critical swing state. George W. Bush won Nevada in 2004 with a historic 40 percent of Latino voters, while Barack Obama won Nevada in 2008 with 75 percent of Latinos. Nevada voters count, and Latino voters in Nevada especially count. Yet the presidential debates have had an Alice in Wonderland quality to them when talking about Latinos. Inside the debate halls, candidates voice strong and angry opposition to Mexican immigration when, for the first time since the 1940s, more Mexicans are leaving the United States than arriving. Outside of the debate halls, Donald Trump famously called Mexican immigrants "rapists" who are "bringing crime," despite the fact that im ...
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Huffington Post article
Housing That's Not a Luxury
NYTimes - over 3 years
More than 8 in 10 New Yorkers want affordable housing to be a priority, a New York Times poll found. But federal housing funds are shrinking and people around the country are spending more than is recommended for home costs. The Democratic mayoral candidate, Bill de Blasio, wants 20 percent of buildings in rezoned areas set aside for below-market rents. The Republican candidate, Joe Lhota, proposes tax incentives for developers. But what other programs could increase the amount of affordable homes in New York and elsewhere? Responses: Strengthen Rent Regulations Jaron Benjamin, Metropolian Council on Housing Ease Regulation to Increase Supply Edward Glaeser, economist, Harvard University Give the National Housing Trust Fund Its Due Keith Ellison, Congressman Nonprofit Developers Stabilize Neighborhoods Barika X. Williams, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Deve ...
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NYTimes article
Immigration Reform Group: Halting Deportations Would Hurt Effort
Huffington Post - over 3 years
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of influential immigration reform supporters warned other advocates on Thursday that pushing President Barack Obama to halt deportations could kill the broader effort. "We believe that's not the right thing to do," Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, told reporters on a press call. "It won't accomplish the objective that we want of comprehensive reform and may create a political environment where it's impossible in any reasonable time frame to get comprehensive immigration reform, because the waters will be so poisoned politically," he continued. Cisneros spoke as part of the Bipartisan Policy Center's immigration task force, which is also led by Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state to President George W. Bush; Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor (R); and Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania (D). The group supports a path to citizenship for und ...
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Huffington Post article
WATCH: Can We Get Past Politics To Reform Immigration?
Huffington Post - over 3 years
TIME: 11:00am-12:0pm EST This panel, including Booz Allen Hamilton Senior Vice President Admiral Thad Allen, American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas and Co-chair of the Housing Commission at the Bipartisan Policy Center Henry Cisneros, will bring together politically diverse individuals with a unique and extensive understanding of national and political party politics. On Tuesday, July 2, moderator Jason Grumet, founder and president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, will guide a balanced examination of the changing demographics of our nation and our voting populace. Panelists will explore the impacts of the ongoing immigration reform debate on their own political parties and the future of national politics. For more information and a schedule of events for the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival, click here. For real time tweets from the festival, see below: Tweets about "#aspenideas" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location) ...
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Huffington Post article
Do You Live In An Age-Friendly Community?
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue By Donna Sapolin There’s an urgent need to ready our cities and villages for the age boom -- and New York is among those leading the way I live in a lovely apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East side, one I chose after careful research and deliberation five years ago, when my youngest son left for college and I decided to sell my home in the suburbs. The gracious building I moved into has lived up to my every hope and dream in all ways but one: Five steps lead down from the front walkway to the lobby entrance and my knees don’t handle these very well. The good news is I'm not alone in thinking that forcing people to enter a building this way is not particularly smart or kind. Many residents felt it would be wise to create a second means of access that would work well for everyone. Last year, the co-op board commissioned a smart, new design for an entrance that residents and visitors of all ages can more easily negotiate. (Those steps are an ob ...
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Huffington Post article
Charles Garcia: Why Great Leaders Compromise
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
A leader needs to learn the art of compromise. As former President Gerald Ford once said, "Compromise is the oil that makes governments go." Retired Judge Nelson Diaz learned that effective leaders also know that compromise and loyalty go hand in hand. A White House Fellow during the Carter administration, Diaz was only the second person of Puerto Rican ancestry to ever work for the White House, and his principal was Vice President Walter Mondale. Diaz had worked as an activist on economic development issues for poor minority communities in Philadelphia before his fellowship. He recalled that one day, he and Mondale were flying to Los Angeles on Air Force Two to plan a birthday party for President Carter when they heard a surprising announcement: The President had just signed an arms sale agreement with Saudi Arabia. Mondale did not know Carter was going to consent to such a deal, and he knew it would be extremely unpopular with the Jewish community, of which Mondal ...
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Huffington Post article
Former Governors Caution Congress On Immigration Reform
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
WASHINGTON -- Former Govs. Haley Barbour (R) and Ed Rendell (D), members of a Bipartisan Policy Center task force on immigration, had a word of warning on Wednesday for optimistic lawmakers: passing reform may be a long process, possibly even stretching into the 2014 election year. "Having been in the White House in '86, the last time we did this, I know it is complex and contentious," Barbour said at a briefing with reporters, referring to the last passage of major immigration reform, when he was political director for President Ronald Reagan. "There are a lot of issues, a lot of which don't get written about in the press, and to me it's a little bit overly optimistic to be talking about what we're going to get done this spring or before the August recess." Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, and Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, said they weren't so sure that timelines set out by Congress were achievable. The so-called gang of eight working on im ...
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Huffington Post article
A First For Latinos: Remembering Raymond Telles
NPR - almost 4 years
The late Raymond Telles may not be a household name, but he was a trailblazer for Latinos in politics; he was the first Latino elected mayor of El Paso, Texas and later became a U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica. Host Michel Martin looks back on Ambassador Telles' life with former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros. » E-Mail This     » Add to Del.icio.us
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NPR article
Prerna Lal: How the GOP Can Win on Immigration Reform
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
Republicans are going to become increasingly irrelevant in national politics unless they do something about their waning support among the nation's fastest growing voting bloc: Latinos. Thus far, they have tamed down the extreme rhetoric considerably and many in the leadership ranks have come out in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is heralded as the savior of the right who can bring the GOP back from the dead. Condoleezza Rice, Henry Cisneros, Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell are set to form a bipartisan commission and seek consensus on immigration reform. In the House, Republicans seem open to the idea of residency for 11 million immigrants. However, carelessly throwing their support behind a theoretical comprehensive immigration reform will not ensure that the Republicans can pick up some Latino votes. Years of demagoguery on the issue has tarnished the Republican image among minorities and the credit for immigration reform will squar ...
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Huffington Post article
Condoleezza Rice On Pathway To Citizenship: 'I Come In With An Open Mind'
Huffington Post - about 4 years
WASHINGTON -- A new bipartisan task force on immigration reform led by Republicans Condoleezza Rice and Haley Barbour and Democrats Henry Cisneros and Ed Rendell still has a number of issues to resolve, including what may be the most challenging: whether undocumented immigrants currently in the country should be given a pathway to citizenship. "I come in with an open mind on this," Rice, former secretary of state to President George W. Bush, told reporters on Monday. "I don't actually have an exact answer at this point because I think this is actually the hardest and most vexing issue. So I look forward to sharing views with other members of the task force." Members' lack of consensus on certain immigration issues is precisely what makes the group important, according to organizers from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Barbour is a former Republican governor of Mississippi; Cisneros was a Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Bill Clinton; and Ed Rendell ...
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Huffington Post article
Bipartisan Group On Critical Issue Emerges
Huffington Post - about 4 years
By ERICA WERNER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is part of a new bipartisan group that will push for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws and a path to citizenship for estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The other co-chairs of the new effort are former Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, a Democrat; and former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, several people involved told The Associated Press on Friday. The high-profile group, brought together by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, will aim to keep up momentum behind overhauling immigration and serve as a sounding board for policy makers, Rendell said. The effort is also meant to underscore that there is a bipartisan consensus behind passing immigration legislation. Bipartisan Senate negotiators are aiming to finalize a bill by March and get it thr ...
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Huffington Post article
Dem convention: Day 1
First Read- MSNBC - over 4 years
“Michelle Obama rarely mentions Mitt Romney by name. But everything she says during this presidential campaign is meant to draw a contrast between her husband and his Republican challenger,” the AP writes. “The first lady will make her case to millions of Americans on Tuesday when she headlines the first night of the Democratic Party’s national convention, where two days later her husband will accept the party’s presidential nomination for a second time. Her high-profile appearance underscores her key role in his re-election bid: chief defender of his character and leader in efforts to validate the direction he is taking the country. Once the reluctant political spouse, she has embraced that mission to sell her husband anew throughout the summer while raising money for the campaign and speaking at rallies in battleground states.” The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor: “Behind the scenes, Mrs. Obama’s advocacy for her husband can be so forceful that speechwriters have had to tone it down o ...
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First Read- MSNBC article
Correction: Countrywide-VIP Loans story
The Brownsville Herald - over 4 years
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a July 4 story and in initial versions of a July 5 story about lawmakers and other officials getting discount loans from the former Countrywide Financial Corp., The Associated Press reported erroneously that former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros was on Fannie Mae's board of directors when his loan was processed. Cisneros was on Countrywide's board of directors, not Fannie Mae's....
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The Brownsville Herald article
Ex-Mayor Cisneros undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer
Star Telegram- blogs - over 4 years
SAN ANTONIO -- Former Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Cabinet secretary under President Bill Clinton, has early-stage prostate cancer and is undergoing radiation therapy, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
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Star Telegram- blogs article
Robert L. Lynch: 'Arts & Economic Prosperity IV' Proves That the Arts Industry Is Resilient, Even in a Down Economy
Huffington Post - over 4 years
I am at the airport having just left almost 1,000 of my best arts friends who had come together for the Americans for the Arts' Annual Convention in San Antonio. I was struck once again by the passion, creativity, resolve, sacrifice and vision that these arts workers have in trying to shape better communities and a better America through the arts. And this week there is a new tool to help them: the "Arts and Economic Prosperity IV" study, which shows that America's arts industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity. The largest and most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, "Arts & Economic Prosperity IV" documents the key role played by the nonprofit arts and culture industry in strengthening our nation's economy. Now...I should note that the point of the arts is obviously not to create economic impact or jobs; the point is to help us communicate in new ways about what it is like to be human, the good, the painful, the ugly, and the sublime. But isn' ...
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Huffington Post article
Gabriel Lerner: Semana Latina: Who Are The Latino Leaders Of Tomorrow?
Huffington Post - over 4 years
As recent elections in heavily Latino-populated states like Texas, Florida and California indicate, there is no shortage of Latino candidates running for office at the city, county, parish and state levels. There are Hispanics who submit themselves to the will of the voters for school and water districts and tax boards; for judges and district attorneys, and all the way up the ladder including state legislature races. Here in southern California, dozens of Hispanic candidates are flooding our mailboxes with colorful electoral literature just in time for the June 5 primary and state election. While most of them are Democrats, a good number are also running as Republicans. Some of the Californian candidates are well-known politicians, like Richard Alarcon, who is now a member of the Los Angeles city counsel and who previously served as state Assembly member (for three months), state senator, and prior to that, again, LA council member between 1993-98. There is also ...
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Huffington Post article
Today in History 04.18.12
3 KATC - almost 5 years
Today is Wednesday, April 4, the 95th day of 2012. There are 271 days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. On this date: In 1818, Congress decided the flag of the United States would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union. In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office. In 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated. In 1859, "Dixie" was performed publicly for the first time by Bryant's Minstrels at Mechanics' Hall in New York. In 1887, Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman elected mayor of an American community: Argonia, Kan. In 1912, China proclaimed a republic in Tibet, a move fiercely opposed by Tibetans. In 1933, the Navy airship USS Akron crashed in severe weather off the New Je ...
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3 KATC article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Henry Cisneros
  • 2015
    Age 67
    In November 2015, Cisneros became an equity partner in Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., an investment banking firm.
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  • 2009
    Age 61
    In 2009, he created the nonprofit group, Our Pledge, to help immigrants integrate into American society by improving language skills and expanding their participation in military service and civic activities.
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros has received multiple honors and awards. In addition, Cisneros is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees. Most recently, an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Occidental College in Los Angeles in 2000. Cisneros has a significant history of authoring, co-authoring, editing and contributing to several books and publications, along with speaking, narration and television appearances. Throughout his career, Cisneros has been and continues to be associated with numerous business, corporate, housing trade, civic and governmental, educational, and charitable organizations.
    Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, said at a July 14, 2009 event there that HOPE VI is generally considered to be one of the most successful urban regeneration initiatives in the past half century.
    More Details Hide Details As Secretary, Cisneros worked diligently to make the program his own, and said HOPE VI was the last gasp for public housing. By the end of his term, Cisneros through his agency had renovated 250 of the worst public housing projects, authorized the demolition of 43,000 mostly vacant units, and advocated for demolishing a total of 100,000 units by the year 2000 in major urban cities. HOPE VI was not without controversy, and Cisneros even appeared on Montel Williams' talk show to discuss HUD's plan to raze America's most crime-ridden, dilapidated housing projects and replace them with attractive new homes with modern amenities in mixed-use developments.
    Together with Jack Kemp, he received the Walter F. Mondale and Edward W. Brooke Fair Housing Award in June 2009 from the Fair Housing Alliance.
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros, either in the past or currently, served on several national commissions in urban affairs such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities Leadership Advisory Council, and the boards of the National Smart Growth Council and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. He presently serves as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the recovery effort in New Orleans and as Co-Chair of the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Cisneros grew up in a middle class family in San Antonio. He and his wife now live in the small house that once belonged to his grandfather in the predominantly Latino inner west side. As mayor, one Cisneros’ accomplishments was the designation of funds to the west side neighborhoods for capital improvements. After returning home to San Antonio in 2000, Cisneros and his wife founded the non-profit American Sunrise in 2001 to provide services for their neighbors within one square mile. From an after school learning center for children to adult literacy classes, American Sunrise creates communities where working families find can find economic, educational and housing opportunities to improve the standard of living in the neighborhood. Annually, 8–10 dilapidated homes are purchased, refurbished and sold back at very affordable costs to create more homeownership opportunities in poor central city neighborhoods. Mary Alice Cisneros is now holds her husband's former city council district seat.
  • 2007
    Age 59
    In 2007, Cisneros received the prestigious Maestro Award for Leadership, at the Latino Leaders Summit, hosted by Latino Leaders magazine.
    More Details Hide Details In selecting Cisneros for the honor, Jorge Ferraez, publisher of Latino Leaders magazine stated: “Henry Cisneros has demonstrated a life-long dedication to public service and improving the life of Latinos. At a time when the Latino community is prospering, we are pleased to honor Cisneros as a leader who has spent decades paving the way for Latino success in education, housing, and business." The Latino population is estimated to grow to 63 million and make up 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. With that on the horizon, Cisneros says the global competitiveness of the United States hinges on the progress of the country's Hispanic population, the fastest-growing minority group. “The Latino population is growing so rapidly that American progress in the coming century is inextricably linked to the progress of the Latino community," Cisneros said. "Any investment in services that help lift Latinos into the middle class is an investment in the future of the entire country."
    In 2007, Cisneros was honored with the prestigious "Housing Person of the Year" Award from the National Housing Conference, where it was said: “Without question Henry Cisneros has demonstrated a lifelong dedication to providing housing to America's working families."
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  • 2006
    Age 58
    Cisneros has also been author, editor or collaborator in several books, including Interwoven Destinies: Cities and the Nation, a project with the late former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp; Opportunity and Progress: A Bipartisan Platform for National Housing Policy was presented the Common Purpose Award for demonstrating the potential of bipartisan cooperation; and Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design, a publication that took the first-ever look at the growing and increasingly prosperous U.S. Latino community and its housing needs, was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Silver Medal in the category of best business book of 2006.
    More Details Hide Details His most recent collaboration with the late former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America’s Cities and States, is a guide for local leaders in designing comprehensive housing policies. Cisneros served as a member of the Debt Reduction Task Force at the Bipartisan Policy Center. From the time he attended a conference on American city issues while in college, during his terms as mayor and HUD secretary, to the present, Cisneros has been driven on a crusade to build America's future by improving its cities' core along with creating affordable housing for the country's workforce families. In his 1993 book, Interwoven Destinies, Cisneros wrote, "The strength of the nation's economy, the contact points for international economics, the health of our democracy, and the vitality of our humanistic endeavors — all are dependent on whether America's cities work."
    Cisneros’ continued active involvement in the real estate industry has led to him receiving multiple national honors. In 2006, Builder Magazine named Cisneros #18 out of the top 50 most influential people in the real estate industry.
    More Details Hide Details In June 2007 Cisneros was inducted into the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) "Builders Hall of Fame" and honored by the National Housing Conference as the “Housing Person of the Year.” As a private citizen, Cisneros remains active in non-profit and civic leadership. He was an advisor for the American Democracy Institute; a trustee for the American Film Institute; and Co-Chair of The National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, to name a few. Cisneros is currently a board member for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and after-School All-Stars, founded by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in addition to being a member of the Advisory Boards of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation, among others. He also took a role in corporate leadership and has served as a board member for Live Nation, in addition to the boards of major builder KB Home and the largest mortgage lender in the nation at one time, Countrywide Financial — two companies among many that prospered in the housing boom, drawing criticism along the way for abusive business practices.
  • 2002
    Age 54
    Cisneros received the 2002 National Inner City Leadership Award from the United States Conference of mayors, honoring him for his work in promoting the revitalization of city economies.
    More Details Hide Details It was said of him when receiving the award: "Henry's unwavering dedication to this country's inner city economies is a testament to the difference one person can make."
  • 2000
    Age 52
    The company that he formed in 2000 as American City Vista to develop residential areas in the central zones of many of the nation's major metropolitan areas evolved to become CityView.
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    By 2000, Cisneros and his wife moved back to San Antonio.
    More Details Hide Details Upon returning to San Antonio, Cisneros established a firm to develop affordable housing there, and in other American cities. His commitment was to develop homes affordable to the core of America's workers such as police, nurses, teachers and city workers. "Home ownership is the way people step into the American dream," Cisneros told the San Diego Union-Tribune. " It creates access to the levers of wealth."
  • 1999
    Age 51
    Cisneros’ mayoral success for elevating San Antonio’s reputation and economic base as a leading city in the nation led to Texas Monthly in 1999 naming him its Texas Mayor of the Century.
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  • 1997
    Age 49
    In December 1997, Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of justice.
    More Details Hide Details In September 1999, Cisneros negotiated a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI and was fined $10,000. He did not receive jail time or probation. Medlar used some of the Cisneros money to purchase a house and entered into a bank fraud scheme with her sister and brother-in-law to conceal the source of the money. In January 1998, Medlar pleaded guilty to 28 charges of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and obstruction of justice. http://lubbockonline.com/stories/032698/009-3666.shtml Clinton later pardoned Cisneros in January 2001.
    After leaving HUD in January 1997, Cisneros moved his family to Los Angeles and served from 1997 to 2000 as president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the nation's largest Spanish-language broadcaster that had become the fifth-most-watched television network in the nation.
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros currently serves on Univision's Board of Directors.
    When he left office in 1997 it had risen to 65.7 percent, its highest level since 1981.
    More Details Hide Details Under policies set in place by Cisneros’ administration, at the end of Clinton's second term, homeownership continued its upward trend to 67.5 percent. At the close of his term, Cisneros acknowledged that lower interest rates and a strong economy were primary factors for the increase. However, the agency's ability to convince lenders, builders and real estate agents that there was money to be made in selling housing to low- and moderate-income individuals played a significant role, he said. As the Clinton administration’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before, contributing to the great housing and financial crisis that began 10 years later. However, in the August 5, 2008 issue of The Village Voice, Wayne Barrett argued that Andrew Cuomo made a series of decisions as Secretary of HUD between 1997 and 2001 that helped give birth to the country's current housing credit crisis.
    After public office, Cisneros served as President and COO for the Spanish-language network Univision from 1997 to 2000 before forming American City Vista to work the nation’s leading homebuilders to create homes priced within the range of average families.
    More Details Hide Details That company evolved to become CityView where Cisneros is currently Chairman. He is currently a partner in the investment banking firm Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. Cisneros co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission and Immigration Task Force. The eldest child of George and Elvira (née Munguia) Cisneros, Henry Gabriel Cisneros was born in San Antonio, Texas, in a neighborhood that bordered the city’s predominantly Mexican west side barrio (now the city's inner west side). Cisneros was named after his mother’s youngest brother who developed Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 14 and asked from his deathbed that his sister give his name to her son. He is descended on his father’s side from early Spanish settlers in New Mexico. His expatriate mother was the daughter of Romulo Munguia, a renowned Mexican dissident journalist, printer and intellectual who fled his native country in 1926 due to the Mexican Revolution and oppressive regime of Mexican dictator Porfirio Díaz. Cisneros’ father, who came from a family of small farmers and migrant workers who had settled in Colorado after losing their Spanish land grant during the Great Depression was a federal civil servant and later an Army colonel who met Elvira Munguia while he was stationed in San Antonio. As his parents survived great adversity and advanced through life with an unfailing belief in hard work, education merit leading to a better life, Cisneros along with his two brothers and two sisters were raised in a highly structured environment that put emphasis on scholarly studies and the arts.
  • 1995
    Age 47
    That led to Attorney General Janet Reno recommending a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate Cisneros in March 1995.
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  • 1994
    Age 46
    Medlar had surfaced in 1994 with a breach of contract lawsuit against Cisneros, claiming he had agreed to support her until her daughter’s college graduation, but that he had discontinued monthly payments.
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros had made payments to her following the end of their affair, discontinuing them only after taking a pay cut upon returning to public life. Although Cisneros had divulged the payments during the FBI background check preceding his appointment, Medlar’s claims suggested that Cisneros might have misrepresented the amount.
    Cisneros also took a high-profile role in the cleanup operation after the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake.
    More Details Hide Details In March 1995, US Attorney General Janet Reno bowed to demands of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives and secured the appointment of an Independent Counsel, David Barrett to investigate allegations that Cisneros had lied to FBI investigators during background checks prior to being named Secretary of HUD. He had been asked about payments that he had made to former mistress Linda Medlar, also known as Linda Jones. Both were married at the time when Medlar volunteered to work on Cisneros' campaign for Mayor of San Antonio. The affair had been 'public knowledge' for a number of years until Medlar sold the story to Fox News for $15,000. The investigation was based on Cisneros's understating to the FBI the amount of money paid to his former mistress and was continued for 10 years, until in January 1996, when Congress finally refused to continue funding it.
    He spent an evening touring a shelter and the streets in Washington D.C. One night in late December 1994, he walked the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, talking to the homeless and later flopped for the night in a shelter in an effort to understand homelessness firsthand.
    More Details Hide Details The next day he announced $7.3 million in HUD for five Minnesota state projects for homeless youth and families. However, his efforts to alleviate the problem were often thwarted by a slow-moving bureaucracy. He described his frustration to Jill Smolowe in Time: "I can't believe how gridlocked the system is... how irrelevant it is to things that are happening out in the country." During his term, Cisneros reformed the public housing system. With his position, he inherited the massive undertaking to oversee the implementation of the HOPE VI program. Initially authorized as part of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, the HOPE VI program represented a dramatic turnaround in public housing policy and one of the most ambitious urban redevelopment efforts in the nation's history. The program is designed to tear down and redevelop severely distressed public housing projects, occupied by poor families, into redesigned mixed-income housing. To do this, Section 8 housing vouchers are provided to enable the original residents to rent apartments in the private market.
  • 1993
    Age 45
    He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn into office by Chief Justice William Rehnquist on January 22, 1993.
    More Details Hide Details With the appointment, Cisneros instantly became the highest ranking Mexican American official in U.S. politics. He also pledged to do everything possible to reform the troubled $28 billion department. Cisneros was well praised for his work as HUD Secretary. Judith Evans reported in the Washington Post that both critics and supporters of Cisneros said he never lacked passion for his job and that he was able to make changes at the margin that made HUD a more effective housing provider. Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY), chairman of the House subcommittee on housing and community opportunity in 1996 said Cisneros displayed "the correct balance of advocacy on behalf of the president and a willingness to think creatively and outside the box in terms of solutions." In his 1999 book, Inside Game/Outside Game: Winning Strategies for Saving Urban America, urban policy consultant David Rusk wrote “…in my view, (Cisneros was) the most successful of the ten secretaries of Housing and Urban Development since the cabinet agency was formed in 1965.” Clinton said Cisneros was a brilliant public servant, and additionally said that people had no idea how much he contributed to the government.
    When John Paul reached his sixth birthday in 1993, Cisneros told Sophfronia Scott Gregory in Time Magazine of his son's ongoing fight for life: "Nothing in my life has prepared me for this."
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros was one of the lowest paid major city mayors in the country, with a $4,500-per-year stipend, and had supplemented his income by speaking fees and teaching urban affairs and government at Trinity University in the Department of Urban Studies. Facing huge medical bills, along with two daughters rapidly approaching college age, Cisneros also hoped to make more money in private industry.
    A Democrat, Cisneros served as the 10th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the administration of President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.
    More Details Hide Details As HUD Secretary, Cisneros was credited with initiating the revitalization of many public housing developments and with formulating policies that contributed to achieving the nation’s highest ever rate of home ownership. In his role as the President's chief representative to the cities, Cisneros personally worked in more than two hundred cities spread over all fifty states. Cisneros' decision to leave the HUD position and not serve a second term was overshadowed by controversy involving payments to his former mistress.
  • 1992
    Age 44
    As an advisor to Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign, Cisneros was mentioned as a possible replacement for various Texas officials who ascended to jobs in the new Democratic administration.
    More Details Hide Details He turned down an appointment as a U.S. senator from Texas for the seat formerly held by Lloyd Bentsen, who had been nominated as Secretary of the Treasury. Clinton nominated him to serve as his new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • 1990
    Age 42
    In 1990, citizens urged Cisneros to run for Governor of Texas, but chose to stay close to home to spend as much time as possible with his family.
    More Details Hide Details At the time, doctors did not know if surgery could correct John Paul’s heart problem. Cisneros’ collaboration with his wife in caring for John Paul — who later recovered to flourish in school after several major surgeries — brought the two back together. In 1991, VISTA Magazine awarded him with its Hispanic Man of the Year honor.
  • 1989
    Age 41
    In 1989, Cisneros left public office and became chairman of the Cisneros Asset Management Company, a national asset-management investment firm that managed $550 million in fixed-income accounts.
    More Details Hide Details During this period, he hosted Texans, a one-hour television show produced quarterly in Texas, and Adelante, a national daily Spanish-language radio commentary. He also served as deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and until he was named Secretary of HUD, he served as a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, chairman of the National Civic League and chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Construction of San Antonio's Alamodome.
  • 1987
    Age 39
    In 1987, Cisneros announced he would not seek a fifth two-year term as mayor and would leave public life after completing his current term as mayor.
    More Details Hide Details Several factors contributed to his decision. The same year, his son, John Paul Anthony, named for the pope, was born with congenital asplenia syndrome; instead of the normal four chambers, the heart functioned as if it had only two. As a result, the blood that cycled through the baby’s system was poorly oxygenated and threatened to flood his lungs as the heart grew. The condition also meant the child was born without a spleen and was 50 times more likely to contract a fatal infectious disease. Cisneros desired to devote more time with his ailing son, whose doctors had given roughly six years to live and whose life would be filled with major surgeries.
  • 1985
    Age 37
    His viability as a national leader was confirmed in 1985 when Cisneros was elected president of the National League of Cities. In 1986, City and State Magazine selected him as the “Outstanding Mayor” in the nation.
    More Details Hide Details A scholarly study of America’s mayors, The American Mayor, ranked Cisneros as one of the 15 best mayors in the nation in a period that spanned the 20th century. He was consistently touted as senatorial and/or gubernatorial material throughout his tenure as mayor, and was identified positively by both conservatives and liberals. In Señor Alcalde ("Mr. Mayor"), John Gillies wrote: "He tried to avoid a political label, such as Democrat or Republican, because he wanted to consider the needs of all of San Antonio's groupings. He formed a bridge between conservatives and liberals "
  • 1984
    Age 36
    Cisneros was selected to give the highly visible “Platform Presentation” at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco on July 17, 1984.
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    In 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale tapped Cisneros as a finalist for the vice presidential nomination, which eventually went to U.S. Rep.
    More Details Hide Details Geraldine Ferraro.
  • 1983
    Age 35
    The national visibility Cisneros gained as mayor of San Antonio led to President Ronald Reagan appointing him in 1983 to the Bipartisan Commission on Central America, chaired by Henry Kissinger.
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    He was reelected to three more terms as mayor by overwhelming margins, including winning an unprecedented 94.2 percent of the vote in 1983, a 73 percent margin of victory in 1985, and 67 percent in 1987.
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  • 1982
    Age 34
    During Cisneros’ tenure as mayor, San Antonio was named an All American City for 1982–83, a prestigious honor awarded by the National Civic League.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout his mayorship, Cisneros continued to live in the small house that once belonged to his grandfather in the city’s west side. He populist positions on issues that favored the poor and the working class. Cisneros also funneled more than $200 million to the city's long neglected Hispanic west side for streets, gutters, libraries, and parks. His improvements also alleviated that area’s long standing flooding and drainage problems. Cisneros' ties to business also helped him establish an education partnership that brought together the city, the local colleges and universities, local business, and various community organizations. This partnership provided financial aid for college to young people in the poorest school districts of San Antonio.
    In 1982, he was selected as one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Men of America" by the U.S. Jaycees, in addition to receiving a prestigious Jefferson Award for “Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under.”
    More Details Hide Details Cisneros’ campaign for mayor and subsequent election gained the attention of national media who made Cisneros the symbol of the growing Latino population in the United States. According to Richard Garcia, “Cisneros, above all, exemplified the rise of the Mexican American generation and the search for … its identity.” He was positively profiled by such national publications as the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Esquire and The New Yorker. U.S. News and World Report listed him (along with then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton) as one of “Ten Rising Stars of American Politics”, and a 60 Minutes profile introduced him to a televised national audience. In his eight years as mayor of San Antonio, Cisneros attracted national attention for his success in developing new economic growth in the city's business sector, and with his diplomatic skills to 'promote cooperation' among the city's various ethnic groups. He exercised a developmental expansion strategy that led the city to unprecedented levels of economic and cultural growths. Cisneros brought federal monies to San Antonio that further developed the downtown business district. He courted Fortune 500 companies and technology firms to set up shop locally to create jobs, enlarge the city’s reserves with local business taxes, and to cement San Antonio’s reputation as a leading city for technology, skilled work and economic output. His efforts brought additional investments to San Antonio, such as luring SeaWorld and Fiesta Texas, two major theme park tourist attractions.
  • 1981
    Age 33
    On April 4, 1981, Cisneros became, at age 33, the second Hispanic mayor of a major U.S. city, and the first Mexican-American mayor of San Antonio since 1842 when Juan Seguín resigned as mayor.
    More Details Hide Details He was elected with 62 percent of the vote. At the time of his election, San Antonio was the tenth largest city in the United States.
    Cisneros announced himself as an independent candidate for mayor in 1981.
    More Details Hide Details His campaigning of hopeful visions for the future of the city was able to unite the wealthy conservatives of San Antonio and the increasingly vocal Mexican American community.
    He served for six years (three terms) on the City Council before being elected Mayor of San Antonio in 1981.
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    Prior to his Cabinet position, Cisneros served four terms as the mayor of his hometown of San Antonio. He was first elected to a two-year term in 1981, when his opponents included a two-term city council member, John Steen, Sr., the late father of the then current Secretary of State of Texas, John Thomas Steen, Jr., a lawyer from San Antonio.
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    He served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, from 1981 to 1989, the second Latino mayor of a major American city and the city's first since 1842 (when Juan Seguín was forced out of office).
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  • 1977
    Age 29
    Cisneros was re-elected twice more to the city council in 1977 and 1979 as a representative of San Antonio Council District 1.
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  • 1975
    Age 27
    As a city councilman from 1975 to 1979, Cisneros had an ability to form a political bridge between the pro-growth business interests and an underrepresented Mexican American community.
    More Details Hide Details He “enjoyed the resources and visibility of the GGL establishment without being confined to its agenda,” and “built an image of an articulate, smooth, Harvard and MIT educated man.” Cisneros also was a local grown home boy who “cared about the problems of the common person.”
    After a whirlwind campaign, and eight months since returning to San Antonio, Cisneros at age 27 was elected the youngest city councilman in the city’s history in 1975, the same year his second daughter Mercedes Christina was born. (Cisneros was the youngest councilman at the time until Chip Haas' election in 2003 at age 26.) Now entrenched in city politics, Cisneros assumed a hands-on approach to governing that he promised in his campaign.
    More Details Hide Details He set himself on a plan to know all he could about life in the city firsthand by emptying garbage cans to learn the problems of the sanitation department, walking a beat with a police officer and administering first aid with ambulance attendants. Cisneros also visited families in public housing units, and promised that their problems would no longer be ignored. As a city council member, Cisneros took assorted populist positions on such issues as dealing with labor, water, education, and housing, among others. All the while, he endeared himself to the Latino community, especially in the city’s predominantly Mexican American poor neighborhoods on the west side, and where he resided. Because of the GGL’s continued authority, the city council was still roundly criticized for not being representative. During the civil-rights furor of the 1960s, the Voting Rights Act signed into law in 1965 required that racial groups be given direct representation by political districts to assure the election of a member. Significantly, in a split vote on the city council on whether to accept a Justice Department order to establish an election plan that would provide more access to the Latino community with direct representation, or challenge the order in court, Cisneros voted to accept the order. San Antonio thus moved to single-member directly represented districts in 1977. This led to the beginning of the end for the GGL and all efforts to rationalize all-city rule.
    Before his tenure as mayor, Cisneros was elected to three two-year terms on the city council, on which he served from 1975 to 1981.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout his career in politics and business, Cisneros has remained actively involved with housing development and urban revitalization. Cisneros is also an active advocate for the Latino community. He has and continues to serve on corporate boards, as well as chairing and serving on several non-profit boards to promote Latinos and the immigrant population. Cisneros has authored, edited, or collaborated on several books and is an in-demand public speaker.
  • 1974
    Age 26
    In 1974, after turning down a professorship at MIT, Cisneros chose to return to San Antonio.
    More Details Hide Details There, he assumed a teaching faculty position in the Public Administration program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. When Cisneros arrived back home, he discovered the old order, stagnant political arena in San Antonio was falling apart and now experiencing a growing socio-ethnic discontent. Since the 1950s, the Anglo-dominated Good Government League (GGL) had run the city where council members were elected at large and the majority came from wealthy ZIP codes in the Anglo populated north side. The Mexican American community believed they had been neglected for too long by a government who paid more attention to city growth in their own residential area than grievances about drainage and infrastructure in lower-valued real estate. The GGL tried to offset this by assuring one member from both west and east sides and recruited Hispanics in their slates for city council. Displaying his gift for working within the system, Cisneros ran as a city council candidate of the GGL.
  • 1973
    Age 25
    During his time on the city council, Cisneros formed a relationship with Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), a powerful grassroots Latino advocacy group founded in 1973 whose focus was to push for development funding into the city’s Latino communities.
    More Details Hide Details His attention to the needs for infrastructure to the lower income Mexican American neighborhoods further elevated Cisneros’ standing in the Latino community. Yet at the same time, Cisneros also looked forward to building a greater San Antonio and the socially redeeming power that comes with economic growth.
  • 1972
    Age 24
    Upon earning a Ford Foundation Grant in 1972, Cisneros and his young family moved to Boston, where he earned his second master's degree at Harvard.
    More Details Hide Details During this time, he worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
  • 1971
    Age 23
    In 1971, the year his eldest daughter Teresa Angelica was born, Cisneros was honored as a White House Fellow and served as an assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Elliot Richardson.
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  • 1970
    Age 22
    After completing his education at A&M in January 1970, Cisneros and his wife moved to Washington, D.C. where he became the assistant to the Executive Vice President of the National League of Cities.
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  • 1969
    Age 21
    Cisneros served as an infantry officer in the Massachusetts Army National Guard while at MIT. He married his high school sweetheart, Mary Alice Perez, in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details Together, they have two daughters, Teresa and Mercedes, and a son, John Paul, and four grandchildren. Cisneros’ community-building career began in urban public service, and setting in motion a focus he would maintain through his entire career to present. The summer after earning his undergraduate degree, he worked in the office of the City Manager of San Antonio. While earning his master's degree from Texas A&M, Cisneros worked in the office of the City Manager of Bryan, Texas, and later as the assistant director of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Model Cities program for urban revitalization in San Antonio.
  • 1968
    Age 20
    Graduating from A&M with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968, he went on to earn a Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning in 1970 from A&M as well.
    More Details Hide Details He earned an additional Master’s in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1973, studied urban economics and did doctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, and received a Doctor of Public Administration from George Washington University in 1976.
  • 1967
    Age 19
    In 1967, Cisneros was selected to attend the annual Student Conference on United States Affairs at West Point where he first learned that U.S. cities were in serious trouble.
    More Details Hide Details Relating what he heard to the problems of his largely poor hometown, the meeting, plus a visit to New York City, was a personal and professional turning point for him.
  • 1964
    Age 16
    Cisneros received a Catholic school education, first at the Church of the Little Flower, followed by attendance at Central Catholic Marianist High School in San Antonio. He entered Texas A&M University in 1964.
    More Details Hide Details In his sophomore year, he switched his major from aeronautical engineering to city management.
  • 1947
    Born on June 11, 1947.
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