U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro | Talks at Google

Fireside Chat
Eric Schmidt with Secretary Julian Castro
January 7, 2016>>Eric Schmidt: Well, good morning. Good morning,
everyone. You don’t have to say “good morning” back.
It’s not class. Good morning, everyone. It’s my pleasure to
have the secretary with us. And I wanted to remind everybody that this is a public event
and there’s members of the press in the audience. So folks who have questions, be aware of that.
I thought we should start by welcoming you back to Palo Alto and Stanford; right?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: That’s right. First of all, thank you, Eric, for having me. It’s
great to be here at Google. And I was telling you and some of the folks that every time
I get back here and the weather is like this, I wonder why I didn’t stay in the first place.
>>Eric Schmidt: I had a different question, you graduated in 1996?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: That’s right.>>Eric Schmidt: So had you joined Google as
it was founded?>>Sect. Julian Castro: I’d have a lot nicer
car today for sure.>>Eric Schmidt: So you went from Stanford
— basically, you grew up in Texas, and you went —
>>Sect. Julian Castro: In San Antonio.>>Eric Schmidt: Which surprisingly, you went
back to. So I want to explore that.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Surprisingly? That’s
the best place in the world.>>Eric Schmidt: Right? Good.
You went from — and I’m joking, obviously. We went from — you went from Stanford to
Harvard. Right? So how do you go from San Antonio, Hispanic
family, you know, to Stanford, to Harvard? Is that why you’ve ultimately — you’re one
of the youngest political rising leaders in our country, one of the fastest-rising political
leaders. Did you know that you were going to become a political leader?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: You know, oddly enough, it was at Stanford when I went — because
I grew up, my brother, Joaquin and I, I have a twin brother, Joaquin. And he says the way
to tell us apart is I’m a minute uglier than he is. I’m actually a minute older. We went
through the public schools of San Antonio. And my mother had been very active in the
old Chicano movement, the Mexican-American civil rights movement of the late ’60s and
early ’70s. We grew up mostly with my mother and grandmother. We both got scholarships
to get to Stanford. We had never seen the campus. It was the second
time that we’d ever been on an airplane. And I remember that we got there on I think it
was Wednesday, September 23rd, 1992, because Stanford’s on a quarter system, they always
start late. When I got to Stanford, it was the first time that I had ever really been
away from San Antonio. And I could see the city with different eyes. I had gone to a
school that — a high school that was probably 85% Mexican-American, not very diverse. Obviously,
a much more diverse community, people from all over the United States and over three
dozen countries. And I could compare what was good and what
needed improvement in my community. So, you know, the — what needed improvement was,
in the Bay Area, you had a place that was — had better education levels, better income
levels, more innovative, ready for the future. In San Antonio, it was a city of about a million
people, a wonderful place to raise a family. A place where people of different backgrounds
had generally gotten along well together. And the way that I’ve always described it
is, it was a big city where if two people passed each other on the street downtown,
they still look each other in the eye. There’s not that disconnection that often happens
as communities get bigger and bigger. So my interest in politics and going into
public service came out of how could you combine the best of that to have.
a community that was innovative and had good income levels and education levels, ready
for the future, entrepreneurial, but also had a good character to it?
>>Eric Schmidt: But when you went to Harvard, you — you know, in — because at the time,
obviously, you were a fantastic student, also a minority relative to the dominant white
culture, you would have easily gone and become very, very successful in the conventional
world, corporate world. What was it that made you go back? You went
back to San Antonio, right, to your hometown. Again, you’re incredibly young. You’re the
youngest councilman, the youngest mayor. You’re elected. You run, you lose narrowly. You then
win again. And you’re only, like, 32.>>Sect. Julian Castro: 34, yeah.
[ Laughter ]>>Eric Schmidt: And people said — listen
to him. And people say — by the way, he looks 22.
Right? So there must be something in your sense of
mission that you’re trying to do.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. Because I —
>>Eric Schmidt: And in San Antonio, you were seen as one of the most innovative mayors
in the country at an age where you’re 20 years younger than everybody else.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: What was burning inside me was that I felt very, very blessed in my
own life to have this great opportunity of going to college and going to law school.
I grew up with a grandmother who had dropped out in elementary school. And she worked as
a maid, a cook, and a baby-sitter her whole life. And she raised my mother as a single
parent. And my mom actually had had the chance to go and graduate from high school and go
on to college. And I felt as though by going back to San
Antonio, that I could make a contribution in public service to make sure that more people
that were growing up like me could actually have the opportunity to go to college and
then pursue their own American dream. And that’s pretty much what drove me.
In my first two summers, as you know, the traditional thing in law school is that folks
will go and be a summer associate somewhere. So I actually — after the first summer, I
actually went back to San Francisco and I was a summer associate at Baker & McKenzie,
which was sometimes referred to as the McDonald’s at that time of law firms, because they had
something like 60 different offices all over the world.
And the second year, my brother and I were at Akin Gump and at Vinson & Elkins back in
Texas. And then when we graduated from law school, we both went back and were at Akin
Gump for a while before we pursued our public service careers.
>>Eric Schmidt: So at this point, you’re sufficiently successful as the mayor that you get on the
sort of interesting national character list that the sort of White House is working on.
And you get involved in their programs. And then you become one of the youngest appointments
at the national level in the Obama administration, as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Can you summarize for us what the problems in housing and urban development are? Because
they strike me as sort of overwhelming.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. I mean, it’s
fair to say that they are very, very significant. They’re massive. I saw this both as a mayor
and now even more so as HUD secretary. To begin with, we have a rental affordable
crisis out there. A few months ago, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition put out a piercing
study that said basically that there isn’t a single community in the United States of
any size where if you’re working full-time, minimum wage, you can afford the rent on a
two-bedroom apartment. And very, very few places where you can afford the rent on even
a one-bedroom apartment.>>Eric Schmidt: So how do people make it?
How do they get by in this situation?>>Sect. Julian Castro: What folks are doing
right now is that you have an unprecedented number of families who are paying more than
a third of their income in rent. Rent is taking up, eating up more and more of their income.
Or they’re doubling up. Or, of course, in our country, we still do have a significant
challenge with homelessness. Although the president has shown great leadership on that.
Homelessness since 2010 has been trending downward. There are cities where it’s going
in the opposite direction. But in general, it has been going down.
So you have that affordable crisis. The home ownership rate in the United States right
now is at a four-decade low. Obviously, we went through the housing crisis. And if the
story ten years ago, in 2005, was that it was too easy to get a home loan, the story
today is that oftentimes for middle-class families, for folks who have an average credit
score but who would be responsible, they can’t get a home loan. It’s too tough.
And lending to minority communities is at a 13- or 14-year low.
So you combine those two things of less home ownership, more people competing in the rental
market, and it adds up to a massive challenge in terms of affordable and housing opportunity.
>>Eric Schmidt: And — so what are the solutions that you would like to see?
My understanding of sort of the HUD that you’ve inherited is, because you have a Republican
Congress, there’s not much that can be changed in the sense of financial allocation, the
rules that you’ve been given in the few years that you’ve been able to be at HUD. In other
words, your degrees of freedom of fixing this are lower than it might appear to an outsider,
because you can’t get the money moved around and things like that.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah.>>Eric Schmidt: Is that true?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Let’s start with a baseline of, we need more resources to be
invested in affordable housing. And because you have a fairly conservative Congress, we’re
not getting the kind of resources that — to meet that demand.
Also, at HUD, HUD as a department has been more and more stressed or burdened over time.
To give you an example of that, the day that Reagan walked into the Oval Office in January
of 1981, HUD had over 16,000 employees. Today, it has about 8,000 employees. So it’s
been cut in half. So this idea that you hear that people think that every department of
the federal government has just run amok and it’s growing, that’s not true.
So that’s a baseline. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re powerless.
That means that we do have to be more innovative. It means that you have to make the resources
stretch further. It also means, frankly — and I saw this as a mayor — that at the state
level and at the local level, that what ends up happening is that states and localities
end up taking up more of the slack.>>Eric Schmidt: There’s a large amount of
public housing, often very old, in America. Do you manage that? Or is it managed by the
cities and states, with money that you give them?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: It’s managed by public housing authorities.
>>Eric Schmidt: Okay.>>Sect. Julian Castro: And there are over
3,000 public housing authorities out there, from public housing authorities that are rural
and very small, to a housing authority like San Francisco or Chicago that have thousands
and thousands of units under their jurisdiction. But it’s federal money.
>>Eric Schmidt: ‘Cause one of those things I wanted to explore as part of why you’re
here is, we — you suggested, and we have entered into a partnership with a number of
other companies to try to get — I would just describe — I’m going to use the word “public
housing” because I don’t know how better to describe it — connected. Can we sort of go
through why that’s important. Why isn’t it obviously already occurring?
You know, what are the roadblocks? Why have you made this — I think this is
one of your signature campaigns in the White House.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. You know, I got the call from President Obama asking whether
I’d be interested in this role on April 16th, 2014. And I remember that because it’s not
every day that the president calls you, asking if you want a job. Unless some of y’all have
that experience. I don’t. And the first thing that I thought about was
what we could do to help — and let me be very explicit — I don’t believe that helping
is a dirty word. That if you do it right in government, that that’s something that’s positive.
But how we could help folks who live in public housing, where the median household income
is about $12,500, how we could help them become more upwardly mobile and get out of public
housing.>>Eric Schmidt: How does somebody live on
$12,500?>>Sect. Julian Castro: I mean, they’re getting
a very significant subsidy of their housing cost. Oftentimes, maybe other subsidies.
That includes also senior citizens who are on social security. And so, you know.
And I believe that, basically, that brainpower is the new currency of success in the 21st
century global economy, and that for America to be as competitive as possible, we need
to ensure that everyone, up and down the income scale, and particularly young people, have
21st-century tools to compete in the job market. And that over half of the folks who are low
income and the vast majority of people who live in public housing don’t have Internet
access or in some cases the community is wired or, in theory, they could have it, but then
they can’t afford it. So either way, they’re not reaping the benefits
of being connected right now. So ConnectHome is a pilot project to connect
28 communities, 27 cities and one tribal community, of folks who live in public housing to the
Internet. And we’re very proud of that effort, very proud of Google Fiber’s role in the effort.
You all have been fantastic. And at the end of the day, we want to do two
things. Number one, we want to ensure that folks get that access, they get connected.
And secondly, we want to be able to measure what difference that makes in their lives.
Because as you all know, it’s not enough to just connect them. We need to get more rigorous
about being able to demonstrate the impact in their lives that that makes.
And ultimately, the long-term goal is that we see more of those kids who are going to
be connected that do better on their third-grade math and reading tests, that are more likely
to graduate from high school, that are more likely to go on to college, and, hopefully,
into companies like Google and others, and to reach their dreams, and that that connection
will have been one small part of that.>>Eric Schmidt: What I remember when you first
called on this was the observation that many of these housing units are reasonably dense,
they’re reasonably vertical. So they’re particularly amenable to a shared service, running a fiber
line. You can serve it with — very many — very many, many people very, very efficiently.
It’s sort of a no-brainer as a public act for corporations and you guys to sort of make
this happen. And the benefits are very quick.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Absolutely. And as
you all know, you’re partnering with ConnectHome in several cities. And, by the way, I want
to say a big thank you to Google Fiber. Today we learned that they’re going to be connecting
the residents in Kansas City, the public housing residents that they’re serving to gigabit
service for free, which is a great victory for that community in Kansas City.
>>Eric Schmidt: We’re very, very proud of that.
And, you know, once you — the simple rule about fiber is, once you’ve got it in place,
it’s just a godsend; right? Because the bandwidth is there, the service is there. You just have
to get these things wired. And one of our biggest projects is making
sure that the sort of local regulatory municipal barriers that get in the way of doing that,
right, for whatever historic reason, are sort of eliminated. And your organization has helped
that throughout the cities. We’re now up to, let’s see, 20 additional
cities in six Metro areas that we’re now designing for. We’re very operational in Kansas City
and in Provo and in Austin. Right? So it really is working.
And our strategy is, of course, you know a national strategy, where we’re in this for
the long run. Do you think — what I can never tell with
programs like ConnectHome is, is it likely to become a truly national program over a
decade? In other words, it looks to us like this is going to be hugely successful in the
30 or so. But there’s a lot more than 30. How do we get to 1,000 and 3,000?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: I believe that it will scale. And my goal is that by the time we
walk out of there, on January 20th of 2017, I would like for us to be able to say that
we have commitments so that every single household in public housing will be connected.
I do believe that that can happen. You have a number of partners who have been
committed to ConnectHome. And I know that we and others will keep prodding everybody
to try and get there. And then after that, you know, there’s HUD
assisted housing that’s mixed-income housing. And so there’s a base that we’re working from.
And I think the drive to grow it. And so I am confident that it’ll become much stronger
than 28 communities. Let me also just say, Eric, that, you know
— and I saw this as mayor when we started thinking about Google Fiber there in San Antonio,
that you can see these fascinating issues that present themselves with sort of the new
economy and the old economy and how that interacts with public law-making at the local level,
the state level, and the federal level. And the use of poles, for instance, and the battles
that you all have had in different communities around that is a very good example of that.
Tesla in its battle with the car dealers in state legislatures — you all know this one,
of course. Usually, you have as to go through a dealership at the state level to sell a
car in many places. Tesla can only have a car there, it’s almost like a show piece,
like a museum, you can only go see it. They can’t even set up a sale.
Another one is Uber and Lyft and all of the issues surrounding that and regulation at
the local level. ,And then these craft brewers and their ability
to distribute versus the beer distributors. So what you see is this fascinating intersection
of the new economy and disruptive technologies and I think the way that local government,
state government, and federal government is sort of doing a head-spinning and trying to
figure out how to respond. I think maybe the best thing that comes from the work that you
all do and others do is helping to educate public policymakers on how we should take
in these things as they change and understand systems differently and not be afraid to regulate
in a different way, or in some cases, not regulate at all.
>>Eric Schmidt: Right.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Because things have
changed.>>Eric Schmidt: We would certainly take the
position that more — that allowing a space for innovation, right, is key. Because innovation
is how companies are formed, jobs are created, wealth is created. And you can imagine there
are plenty of problems in cities that can be solved if the space were — the legal space
allowed for a local innovator to create a company to solve this particular problem.
When I was much younger, there was a fear about strong mayors. And in the last couple
of decades, there’s been a sort of view that the government was relatively dysfunctional
unless you had a strong mayor. And we went through a period of what I would argue was
a strong mayor. But you were a strong mayor. In the internal politics of these cities,
why is the mayor — it’s a simple question, but why is the mayor’s power important and
how is it exercised? As you know, cities can be understood as the innovation engines now
in America.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Well, it’s important
because leadership at the top, I think, whether it’s in a company or at one of these levels
of government, where the leader is focused is oftentimes what’s going to move the organization
and where the attention of the organization is. And the position of mayor is important,
and a mayor has strength or doesn’t have strength, I think, basically by a couple of things.
Number one, whether they have the votes with the people they serve with on the city council
to actually get something done. Because at the end of the day, that’s the body that makes
policy decisions. And whether they’re effective in the organization in getting that organization
to execute well. And those two things, I think, are really
what add up to whether someone is successful or not successful in that office.
>>Eric Schmidt: But I think for our audience here, people are often very, very confused
about why problems — engineers often get confused about politics, because engineers
are rational and politics is often irrational. [ Laughter ]
It’s — sorry. [ Laughter ]
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Is that a comment about the 2016 election cycle?
>>Eric Schmidt: We’re going to get to that. I’m going to compare you to Marco Rubio.
The –>>Sect. Julian Castro: I’m not wearing boots
today, so –>>Eric Schmidt: If we talk about the Bay Area,
you’ve got enormous wealth, enormous creativity, many people would say that the financial results
for the stock market for the last year have largely been tech-driven. Right, there’s a
lot of reasons to think that this area in particular is a jewel. And yet we have these
crippling housing problems and crippling transportation problems. And I don’t need to tell anyone
here in the audience how difficult this has become.
Why are these problems not fixable? In other words, it’s pretty obvious to me that if you
had a bunch of people in a room and said we’ve got lots of smart people coming in, lots of
people who are being dislocated in housing. We need more affordable housing, we need more
of this and more of that and so forth. Why does it not work that way?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Well, it doesn’t work that way for — I agree with you that it ought
to be able to work that way. And I do think that we can get closer than we are.
But let’s just take the issue of housing in San Francisco. Right? I imagine there are
a lot of folks in this room that are dealing with that. Or in any other city that is a
hot market. It doesn’t work in a linear fashion because
people who represent different areas and different interests get pressure. Then sometimes they
listen to that pressure in a proportionate way, and sometimes they listen to that Flash
a disproportionate way. Why can’t we build more affordable housing
in many areas? Because you get a lot of NIMBYism. I saw this every week in San Antonio. Someone
wanted to come in and create more density. Then you’d have all these folks line in this
front of the city council and say, no way. Keep this — and I’m going to vote against
you if you vote for this. And for that elected official making that
one decision, right, and not oftentimes putting it all together, because they all add up,
you know, are you going to make 200 people angry? And for what, in their mind?
>>Eric Schmidt: Do you think that the higher levels of government, so the state or federal
government, should play a more directive role to support growth and development of, for
example, housing in general, transportation in general, affordable housing? Or are you
more in favor of letting the local authorities, mayors primarily, sort this out with the concomitant
issues that you’re well familiar with?>>Sect. Julian Castro: Let me say that I do
believe there are a lot of places where mayors and councils and county commissions are doing
a lot of innovative work and good work and creating more affordable housing opportunities.
But you always have that political reality, too, that sometimes cuts against that grain.
The — generally, the posture has been to deliver resources to local communities and
as much as possible, to let those local communities determine how they’re going to spark greater
housing opportunity. The best example of this are two of our bread-and-butter
programs, which are Community Development Block Grants, it’s a 41-year-old program now,
CDBG, and HOME funding, which started in 1992. And these are block grants to local communities
and states that gives them a lot of flexibility on how they use this money.
So you might have one community that is using that money mostly to rehab elderly housing
and another that is using that as gap financing to create more affordable housing, but it
runs the gamut. Now, let me give you an example of something
that I’m telling mayors more and more these days.
We’re saying, because CDBG is often the largest allocation of money that they get, cities
get from HUD. We’re saying, look, what we see out there is that we need more housing.
We need more affordable housing. And at the same time, only about 29% of CDBG money is
being used directly for housing. They’re using it for infrastructure projects. Because it’s
flexible. Is it — I’m saying, mayor X or Y or Z, you
know that you have an affordability issue in your city, and yet at the same time, you’re
doling out one million dollars here for this project, for another project instead of using
those resources in a focused way on housing. And so to get back to one of my original points,
yes, we need more resources. That’s definitely a big part of the story. But we also need
to be as smart as possible about the resources that are there and that we do have.
>>Eric Schmidt: I think as we sort of finish and move to audience questions, I do want
to talk to you a bit about the political landscape. You’re often mentioned as a very significant
future leader on the Democratic side. You are — have been, in fact, compared to Marco
Rubio. I’ve never quite understood in a Hispanic
context the politics on the Hispanic side. Presumably, a Hispanic candidate would be
in favor of immigration, legalization, and so forth and so on. Can you sort of dissect
what’s going on for somebody who’s not Hispanic, sort of explain, how do the politics work?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: It’s a good question, you know. And my perspective on it was first
informed, of course, by growing up in a city that was 60% Hispanic, mostly Mexican-American,
and now having served as mayor, and then now at a national level getting to visit communities
like Florida and like northern Virginia that are Hispanic but very diverse, people from
all over Latin America. The Hispanic community generally leans Democratic.
In 2012, you know, everybody knows that about just over 70% voted for President Obama. At
the same time, there are pockets of Hispanics, particularly in places like Florida and Cuban-Americans
and especially the older generation of Cuban-Americans, and in some places of Texas that have leaned
Republican. And so what you have in Marco Rubio and Ted
Cruz I think are two good examples of folks from a Hispanic community that generally had
leaned Republican. That is changing. In fact, 2012 was a breakthrough year because the president
actually won more than 50% of the Hispanic vote in Florida and a large percentage of
the Cuban-American vote. But I think that often there’s this disconnect
in the media centers of the United States. And I’m thinking especially of New York. I
don’t think that they get, oftentimes, the diversity of the Hispanic community in and
of itself, whether that’s culturally or politically. I also think it’s true that the Democratic
party can’t, you know, — cannot forever just count on getting the Hispanic vote. I have
seen that in Texas, you know. I saw when George Bush ran for governor in ’94 and ’98 and when
he ran for president.>>Eric Schmidt: Very popular.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. He got about 40% of the vote.
So it’s possible. The problem that Republicans have is not the
personalities, because they have Cruz and Rubio, and they have Susana Martinez and Governor
Sandoval in Nevada. The problem is, their politics is their policies. They’ve gone crazy
on immigration. They’ve gone way out there to the right. On tax policy, on education
policy, on just about all of the bread-and-butter issues, the kitchen table issues that matter
to the Hispanic community, they’re way to the right. And I don’t see from here to November
that they’re going to be able to get back in to the middle zone that I think would make
most Hispanics comfortable with them, even if they had somebody like Marco Rubio running
at the top of the ticket.>>Eric Schmidt: No political conversation
is finished without bringing up Donald Trump’s name.
So one theory of what’s going on goes something like this: That many, many people have not
seen economic growth over the last decade. This is well established mathematically. And
there are many theories as to why this growth and success has not occurred. One would be
immigrants taking your jobs. Anti-Muslim feelings, all those sorts of things. That can be argued
as a Trump position. Another one would be it’s the banks and the
elites and the so forth. And that would be sort of the Sanders position. People are making
these arguments. And the core point in this argument is that
the elites, which most of us travel with, missed this anger, and that the anger is not
just exemplified by Trump, but exemplified by all of the candidates who are non-traditional,
right, non-mainstream candidates, which there are in both parties.
Do you agree with that? You’re a person who’s lived in both worlds; right? You grew up —
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Sure.>>Eric Schmidt: You grew up in a tough environment.
You went to the best schools and so forth. Do you believe the elites missed this? Do
you believe that there is a gap between, shall we say, the common person, the common person’s
experience, which is exemplified by this rather odd politics as the elite like to describe
it, and the elites?>>Sect. Julian Castro: I believe that that
gap is growing. And I definitely believe that there’s a strong frustration there.
I vehemently disagree with what Trump has put forward as a solution. And I do agree
with those who have said that, basically, it’s this boogeyman or shiny object politics
of sort of redirecting people’s anger. I believe what we need to do more of is what
the president has focused on these last several years, which is, you know, a plan for universal
pre-K. So people get started strong and are able to graduate and go on and reach their
dreams. That we make community college free those
first two years and make college more affordable and reduce student debt so that folks can
get on with prospering in their lives. That we make home ownership for responsible
families more accessible. So, you know, at the end of the day, what
we need to do is to get back to the blueprint that gave us a strong middle class in the
United States. And that’s what the president has been trying to do. And that’s what I believe
that Secretary Clinton would do as well if she were —
>>Eric Schmidt: And you’ve endorsed her as a presidential candidate.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Sure.>>Eric Schmidt: Maybe we should move to questions
from the audience as well as we have some submitted questions which we call the Dory.
So we can start with one. And if — There’s a mic here as well.
The — Let’s see if I have my list here. The most attractive Internet access option
for — and I’m reading this from a submitted question — for disadvantaged families is
prepaid mobile broadband. What are the fundamental reasons for its extremely high cost in the
U.S.? In my country of origin — this person is not a U.S. person — it costs less than
a tenth of what it does here. In other words, why does mobile broadband cost so much?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Number one, I have a feeling there are probably three dozen people
that can answer that question better than I can in this room.
[ Laughter ] However, I mean, let me say that I’ll give
you a good example from my hometown of, I think — you know, again, to go back to this
issue of the regulatory environment and how we can undo some of that in order to make
access more affordable. San Antonio is one of a number of cities that
has a municipal utility. We own a municipal utility. And at some point in the early ’90s
or mid-’90s, they went out and built a fiber network, the municipal utility did. They built
this fiber network throughout the city or throughout their service area. In the late
1990s, the Texas legislature passed a statute that said that cities that owned that kind
of fiber network could not provide — use it to provide Internet access to homes, to
their citizens. They could use it for a very —
>>Eric Schmidt: Really?>>Sect. Julian Castro: — limited number of
things, and only for certain educational institutions, like universities and libraries.
So you have this community, and it’s not the only one, that is sitting on this fiber network
that’s not able to use it to provide cheaper, good Internet service.
Now, you could undo that statute to allow them to contract with a company to go in there
and run that network. But I think that we need to find more ways
that we can lower the cost.>>Eric Schmidt: But was this just an industry
lobbying effort that — I mean, sounds to me like you have a municipal asset and people
are telling you you can’t use it.>>Sect. Julian Castro: It’s a company that
shall go unnamed right now.>>Eric Schmidt: Not Google.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: No. It was not Google. But there was lobbying at the state level
to pass that kind of law. And that’s a good example, to me, of — that we’re not maximizing
our potential sometimes.>>Eric Schmidt: Next question is, FCC defiance
broadband as 25 megabits, giving close to $10 billion of carriers to speed up deployment
of Internet service to rural America. ISPs are considered regional monopolies by many,
in other words, this questioner. Some states are trying to ban municipal broadband.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah.>>Eric Schmidt: Can you make sense of this?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah, I mean, to go to this point, from my experience in San Antonio,
that — at least that case did not make a lot of sense.
You know, I believe that we need all hands on deck.
>>Eric Schmidt: To your knowledge, is it still under this restriction?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: It is. Sure. Yeah. So when I was mayor, I sat on the CPS Energy
board. That has not changed. And it’s not the only community. I remember reading back
then of other communities in the United States. Not many had a network that was as developed
as San Antonio’s, but there are some. I just think that we need all hands on deck
in terms of trying to make it more accessible and more affordable for folks to get access.
>>Eric Schmidt: Now, I’m reading — yes, sir. We have a question. Let’s go ahead.
>>>Quick question. If you found yourself to be the vice president of the United States
a year from now, A, how would you feel about the opportunity, and, B, what are some of
the things you would look (indiscernible). [ Laughter ]
>>Sect. Julian Castro: No. I appreciate the question and the confidence that you have
in me. [ Laughter ]
And thank you. However, you know, I’m trying to do a good job at HUD. And, you know, just
— I’ve seen many times in life that the best way to make sure that you have a good future
is not to forget about your present, what’s in front of you right now. So I’m trying to
do a great job at HUD. And then whatever the future brings, we’ll see.
All right.>>Eric Schmidt: Yes, sir.
>>>Hi. Thank you very much for being here.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Is that a Cal shirt
you have on?>>Eric Schmidt: It might be.
[ Applause ] I was thinking about taking it off, I thought
it will be fine.>>Sect. Julian Castro: You all beat Navy the
other day.>>>Air Force.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Air Force.>>>It was a great game.
My question is that you mentioned a little bit earlier that sometimes cities, you know,
they have large funds allocated to them for urban development projects and housing, but
a lot of times they don’t use it for housing. And so I know that a lot of times the federal
government has requirements for states and cities that once they meet those requirements,
then they get the money. And it’s generally for a purpose like urban development, but
sometimes they can use it for other things. I was wondering if your department has considered
putting those requirements also on the money. Once you get it, here’s what you have to do,
say, you know, maybe for ten years, you have to use this for housing, and then that would
put a sizable dent in the problem.>>Sect. Julian Castro: No. Thank you very
much for the question. So we do have a decent amount of money that
is more restricted in terms of that it has to be used for housing.
A lot of that money doesn’t flow directly to cities; it goes to these public housing
authorities or states. Also, the treasury has a very important and significant program,
the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. They administer it, Treasury does, that goes to states. And
the states distribute those low-income housing tax credits to local communities. And that’s
just for affordable housing. So, you know, I don’t want to give the impression
that there’s not any resources that are — In fact, most of the resources are more restricted.
However, the two big block grant programs, so to speak, are a little less so. And especially
— I’m really thinking about Community Development Block Grants. Because home, it is shaped a
little bit more for housing.>>>Thank you.
>>Eric Schmidt: Yes, ma’am.>>>Thank you so much for joining us today
and for everything you do with HUD. Really appreciate all the efforts you’ve made to
help people nationally, but so many of the communities that you are serving like through
ConnectHome, specialty minority communities. We talked about Google Fiber and the role
that can play. The other thing that affects them with mobile, knowing diverse communities
are more likely to buy a smartphone than any other demographic, Latinos in particular.
Many tech companies are so quick to look to other countries where we see a need, the next
billion users, something I know Eric is particularly passionate about. And often, many of us who
come from communities like these think about the need to look in our neighborhoods here.
When we think of innovation and thinking about how can we possibly understand what it means
to come from a family that makes $12,500, that family probably has a smartphone or hopes
to have one as their first means of connecting to the Web.
So knowing all that, what are your thoughts on the responsibility we have as Googlers
to better understand these communities and develop for them?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: You know, it’s a wonderful question, and I know that you all are doing
some fantastic work in the Mission District and other places to try and help communities
maximize their potential. And I believe that there is a tremendous amount of low-hanging
fruit out there, and so many young people that are growing up that have the potential
to be like y’all here, Googlers and folks who have graduated from college and, you know,
reached your dreams or are reaching your dreams. And so how we figure out ways to scale being
able to improve their circumstances and their trajectory is fantastically important. And
so I’m glad that y’all are a part of that. You bring up an issue that I think, you know,
leads to a real irony, which is that especially for low-income communities, in public housing,
and communities of color that too oftentimes are low income, they overuse technology in
many ways. You know, have a smartphone, use apps like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
And so you see that — both that there is a market there that probably is being undertapped
a lot of times and that the private sector, I think, needs to gear itself even more toward
and focus on. I think there’s a responsibility there to enhance the number of folks who come
from those communities who are able to participate in the success of companies. And I also believe
that in this 21st century, that as you look around the globe, that the United States finds
itself in this unprecedented competition for talent and brainpower with — with nations
around the world that are producing tons of young people that are intelligent and talented
and tech-savvy. And we need to do our part to make sure that we don’t let any of that
potential go to waste. And so, you know, I applaud y’all for what
you’re doing. And I hope that more of that will happen and that Silicon Valley continues
to become more diverse. And I think that’s going to be good not just for any one company
or for the industry, but for the United States in making us more globally competitive in
this 21st century.>>Eric Schmidt: Diversity is a clear strength,
right, is the common message here. Another question from our electronic audience.
Homelessness in our cities is reaching epidemic levels. In San Francisco, streets are lined
with tents and underpasses are filled with them. Why isn’t homelessness a federal issue?
These are citizens of the United States. The federal government, and not cities, should
take full responsibility for their welfare.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Actually, the — homelessness
very much is a federal issue. So in 2010, the president laid out a blueprint for ending
homelessness in the United States called Opening Doors. And it was significant because it was
the first presidential plan that didn’t just say, we want to reduce homelessness. It said
we want to end homelessness. And the first part of that was ending veteran homelessness.
So since 2010, veteran homelessness has gone down by 36%. Overall, homelessness has been
reduced by 11%, and with about a 17% reduction in family homelessness. We’ve also seen a
reduction in chronic homelessness. So HUD delivers billions of dollars of resources
into what are called continuums of care that are locally based partnerships of nonprofits
and governmental entities that deal with homelessness and try and drive down those numbers. However,
even though we have seen that progress, it is very clear that especially in these West
Coast communities — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles — that you have seen
a spike in the last 18 months, two years, especially in unsheltered homeless.
>>Eric Schmidt: Right.>>Sect. Julian Castro: People living on the
streets. So about five weeks ago, I joined the mayors
of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and L.A. in Portland to talk about how we can be helpful.
We want to be proactive at HUD and help them as they address trying to get the growth in
homelessness under control because we very much recognize that. But we do have a role
to play. We are playing that role, and not just with money, but also helping them strategize
and getting a good system in place to drive down those numbers.
>>Eric Schmidt: Right. Go ahead, yes, sir.
>>>So — thank you so much for being here and for the work you’re doing. My question
speaks almost exactly to the previous question. But there was a lot of news coverage recently
about Utah’s homelessness — program to address homelessness. I think it was even covered
on “The Daily Show.” And they described it as basically their strategy is to provide
homes to the homeless. And they have seen a lot of success. They say there are fewer
than 300 homeless people in the state of Utah at this point. I haven’t heard a lot of comparisons
being drawn from the Utah program to federal programs. And I guess I was just wondering
if you could talk about any lessons that you think could be learned from that specific
program and maybe why those lessons haven’t been applied nationally.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yes. So what you’re mentioning is something called Housing First.
So if you all think about public policy a lot of times, and especially as it leans sort
of center right, the idea that we have is that, okay, you show that you can take responsibility,
and then we’re going to give you opportunity. Housing First flipped that on its head. It
used to be that we would have homeless folks, you know, stay a certain number of nights
in a shelter, start going to an addiction counselor if they have an addiction or start
trying to look for a job if they’re — obviously, if they’re homeless, they’re probably out
of a job. It flipped that on its head and said, no,
you know what? First we’re going to put you in permanent housing with supports. So somebody
that will help you try and find a job, help you address an addiction or other issue. But
we’re going to give you the opportunity first and then stabilize you so that you can take
that responsibility. And there’s a real lesson in that that we’re trying to figure out, okay,
where else does that apply? And the cities that have been most successful
in driving down their homelessness numbers have been those cities that have been strongest
with Housing First.>>Eric Schmidt: As a follow-up, do you — I
imagine these are people where life just doesn’t work. So they have an addiction problem, they
have a health problem, a woman with children without a provider husband, and/or bad domestic
situation. Do you think that Housing First is a necessary
precondition to solving those problems? Because often, my understanding of these people is
that they have compound problems, right? No credit, criminal history, drug problem, you
know, whatever.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. I would say that
that’s shown itself to be the most effective. Because having housing stabilizes the individual
or the family so that they can then go address those other issues, versus, you know, they’re
having to sleep in a shelter or transitional living facility, and kind of address it — address
their issues during the day and worrying about where they’re going to sleep at night, it’s
not as effective that way. That’s what the research has shown.
Salt Lake City and Utah in general have been excellent in that regard. And so have a number
of other communities and states. In fact, on Veterans Day, I was at the War Memorial
in Virginia, in Richmond, with Terry McAuliffe, celebrating that Virginia had become the first
state — they call themselves a commonwealth, I guess — to effectively end veteran homelessness.
>>>Can you just follow up real fast and say, then, how is the federal government pushing,
given that we’ve seen that that’s more successful, to apply that everywhere?
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Yeah. So, I mean, that is what we’re recommending for communities
all the time to do. And with our continuum of care funding, we have favored that approach,
basically. Essentially, incentivized continuums of care around the nation to go with the Housing
First model. So we expect that in the years to come, as they get stronger at implementing
that, that we’re going to see similar success. Let me just very quickly go back to the question
of San Francisco and L.A. and some of these communities that have high growth in unsheltered
populations. You know, there’s still a need for transitional
living and shelters, and especially in communities that have an onslaught of folks living on
the streets. The fact is, you’re not going to find all of them permanent housing right
away. So you need an effective way to deal with that.
One effective way, an example of that, is something called a navigation center in San
Francisco that I visited a couple of months ago. It is transitional living, but they do
things a little bit differently than most places. For instance, they let people go in
as couples into the shelter. And they let folks take their pets. And maybe most importantly,
they still have an eye to getting folks to more permanent housing, but they recognize
that’s not going to happen right away.>>Eric Schmidt: Ma’am, you’ll have the honor
of the last question.>>>Great. Thank you so much.
As you know, we are facing a crisis of extreme proportions around affordable housing here
in the Bay Area, and as is the case all across the country. And yet this is an issue that
has not risen to an issue of national debate. How do we get this issue that is part of a
national debate, how do we get this issue to be translated from one that people see
as an individual issue, an individual responsibility, to one that is fundamental to our communities.
Our infrastructure, how we get to work, how we go home at night and do our homework, how
we stay healthy, all aspects of our life are related to this issue of having a great home.
And yet this is not an issue that has adequate resources. And we are facing a very extreme
situation here. I’m part of organizations that are doing affordable
housing advocacy in the Bay Area. We’re facing an uphill battle. And yet the solutions are
clear. We need more resources flowing. Can you speak to some of those issues? And
thank you so very much.>>Sect. Julian Castro: Well, thank you for
the work that you and the organization are doing.
If we were to go and look at the transcripts of the 2016 debates so far, I don’t think
we’d find a single mention about housing. I don’t even think we’d find a mention about
education so far. And so there is a — there’s a disjuncture between what’s being focused
on and what — and the issues that intimately impact the health, the well-being, and the
forward trajectory of families. And to your question of, okay, how do we get
this on the radar screen, I wish I had a better answer than just to say that with regard to
housing specifically, people hear “affordable housing,” and they think, “Oh, that’s poor
people.” But the fact is that more and more middle-class families these days are dealing
with the issue of paying more than a third of their income in rent. And so that issue
is affecting so many more people on the spectrum, and folks that vote. So, like anything, it
depends on the activism of everyday Americans to put that on the radar screen of people
running for city council and mayor, where a lot of the action on these things happen,
to state legislators, and, of course, federal candidates.
>>Eric Schmidt: I think you all see why I wanted Secretary Castro to come.
I just — I have not met very many political leaders today who have the kind of future
scale that you will have and the impact that you’re going to have on America. I’m very
proud to be American, and I’m very proud that you’re going to be one of our great future
and, of course, current leaders. Thank you so much for being here.
>>Sect. Julian Castro: Thank you. Appreciate it.
[ Applause ]

10 Replies to “U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro | Talks at Google”

  1. Son now HUD political cocksuckers want to change the demographics of suburban neighborhoods and turn them into section 8 shit holes. I guess too many white, upper middle class Republican's in those areas and that cannot be tolerated! Got to get more deadbeat entitlement Democrat voters in those areas. HUD only creates crime ridden toilets!

  2. American needs to invest in their current citizens, not take in more people to share the pie with!  The American dream is a lie, look at the unemployment rates, we're sinking in debt, we need reality not hold onto a debt-trap dream.

  3. If you'll take the time to do a little research about this radical Julian, his twin brother and his chit stirring La Raza mother whom all want to keep the borders wide open, want Sanctuary Cities and for all of us taxpayers to pay for all of their illegal chit!Obama's named this fraud as Sec. of HUD for a purpose and keep in mind, this guy is already "up to his ears" in corruption pulling off all kinds of illegal chit in San Antonio, both him and his corrupt brother!!

  4. Help VBCDC has been mistreating me. I am on hud. VBCDC is Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation. I rent from them through HUD. I have epilepsy and hypoglycemia as well as being 59. The maintenance men have been harrassing me over everything. If they fix things they come into my home and halfway fix things. Now the refridgerator is been broke for two months the electrical is bad so it shorts out appliances. Help! Ms. Casin 757 385 5756.

  5. People sell drugs, steal, prostitute, and other illegal crimes. That is how they make it. The week we moved in here a teenage girl killed another in front of our house. Solution to politicians is to impreach them from their elected offices, based on The Bill Of Rights and Constitution. Remember the French Revolution, off with their heads. Crazy but desperate, you can never stop people from living like human beings. That is a crime!

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