Margaret Salazar will become Northwest regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after more than five years leading Oregon’s housing agency.
President Joe Biden announced her appointment Thursday, along with state appointees for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Salazar spent 10 years at HUD before she became director of the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services in November 2016. She also sat on the HUD review panel for the Biden transitional team before Biden became president Jan. 20, 2021.
Among her previous jobs at HUD were director of the Oregon field office in Portland and chief of multifamily production in the San Francisco regional office.
The Region 10 office she will lead covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.
As director of the state housing agency, Salazar helped develop the first statewide housing plan to expand the number of lower-cost units with state money. Slightly more than two years into the plan, the agency and its partners have funded or created 18,000 homes — close to 75% of the plan’s goal.
Gov. Kate Brown stood by Salazar after Republican legislators called for her firing over the backlog of thousands of applications for emergency rental assistance under state and federal funding. Oregon was among the states that exceeded initial targets by the U.S. Treasury for spending federally supported rental assistance.
“With her extensive leadership and expertise in housing issues at the local, statewide and national levels, I know she is the right person for this job, where she can use her talents to address the unprecedented housing challenges our nation faces, while also representing Oregon’s voice and unique needs at the federal level,” Brown said. “Housing stability is fundamental, and we must work together at the local, state and federal level to continue increasing housing supply, strengthen tenant protections, help more people return from homelessness to housing and address our country’s legacy of racist housing policy that has created deep racial disparities in housing stability and homeownership.”
Prior to the initial $289 million in federal aid last spring, Oregon lawmakers approved $200 million from the state budget for emergency rental assistance in December 2020. That money has been spent, and as of Jan. 7, the state agency reported that $222 million of Oregon’s federal funds for emergency rental assistance has been paid out to 32,000 households.
Oregon has asked for $198 million more from the U.S. Treasury, which will reallocate money left unspent by other states and communities.
Oregon lawmakers approved a total of $215 million more — $100 million for emergency rental assistance, most of the rest for services to avert evictions — from the state budget at a special session Dec. 13.
Salazar grew up in Hood River and Portland. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley.