This week Katie is joined by ChangeMaker, Sandra Henriquez, the Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Housing Commission. Sandra and her team serves nearly 4% of the city’s population and nearly 9,000 deeply affordable units in metro Detroit. Before joining the DHC, Sandra worked in the Obama administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development and also served as the chief operating officer for the national nonprofit, Rebuilding Together.
About Sandra Henriquez:
Sandra is the Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Housing Commission (DHC). As its CEO, she directs all aspects of the Commission’s administration and operation. With an annual budget of $76m, DHC provides 8,870 deeply affordable units in metro Detroit, serving 22,000 households or nearly 4% of the city’s population. She is responsible for re-positioning and upgrading its current portfolio of properties and developing integrated holistic housing communities ensuring that housing serves as the platform upon which residents build their lives. In addition, Sandra is charged with the creation of more affordable housing through innovative development, construction and property management activities.
Prior to Detroit, Sandra served as the Chief Operating Officer for Rebuilding Together, a national non-profit, whose mission is to provide free and substantially-free critical repairs to the houses of low-income veterans, seniors and families with children. She was responsible for all aspects of the organization’s administrative operation, including finance, human resources, IT, strategic planning, technology, knowledge management, data collection and procurement.
In addition, she is the Owner and Principal of SCBH Associates LLC, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm that provides services to public and affordable housing owners in the areas of strategic planning, public policy and real estate property management.
She was nominated and appointed by President Barack Obama, confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and sworn in as an Assistant Secretary. As part of the senior leadership team at HUD, Henriquez oversaw the nation’s public housing and Housing Choice voucher (formerly known as Section 8) rental assistance programs that assist approximately 3.2 million low-income families, senior and disabled persons across the nation. She was also responsible for the Department’s Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian programs, as well as Native American programs serving 566 federally recognized sovereign tribes.
During her tenure, Ms. Henriquez was responsible for development, justification, oversight and administration of annual budgets in excess of $27 billion. With 1500 staff located in 46 offices nationwide, provided technical assistance to stakeholders, established or improved policy and regulatory environments and compliance, designed and implemented place-based strategies and programs that redeveloped neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, increased the number of energy-efficient/retrofitted units and increased the number of affordable units in communities of opportunity.
For 13 years, Henriquez was the Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), one of the nation’s larger public housing authorities. At the BHA, she was responsible for an 850-person workforce, a $280 million budget and nearly 25,000 units of public and other affordable housing service approximately 65,000 low-income residents or 10% of the city’s population.
Henriquez’s leadership made BHA one of the leaders among housing authorities for redeveloping old public housing developments into thriving mixed-income communities using HUD’s HOPE VI Revitalization program. She also created housing strategies and programs to help house the homeless and introduced green principles into BHA business practices and building maintenance and construction. She used Energy Performance Contracting to retrofit the housing authority’s outdated heating systems, making them state-of-the-art, more efficient and less costly to operate. These upgrades not only created operating savings for the housing authority, but also created better living environments for residents.
Henriquez’s other professional experiences include working at a full-service real estate property management firm, specializing on the delivery of services to resident-controlled and non-profit sponsored housing and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Department of Housing and Community Development, overseeing 50,000 units for families, seniors and disabled individuals.
Henriquez has a background of diverse Board service on the national and local levels. In Boston, the YWCA Boston recognized her for work in fair housing in Boston public housing communities by naming its Racial Justice Award in her honor. Ms. Henriquez has received several other awards and recognition, including the 2018 Marquis Who’s Who® Lifetime Achievement Award.