February 26, 1998
University Gazette


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  Housing Center Appoints New Director

Nicolas Retsinas, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been appointed director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, according to Peter G. Rowe, Dean of the Faculty of Design, and Joseph S. Nye Jr., Dean of the Kennedy School of Government.

In making the announcement, the deans noted that Retsinas is a national leader with a great depth of experience in housing finance, policy, and research.

Retsinas worked at HUD for five years as assistant secretary for housing-federal housing commissioner. In that capacity, Retsinas administered the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insures more than $406 billion in mortgages for homeowners and multifamily property owners in the United States.

During Retsinas's tenure, the FHA assisted more first-time buyers than in any comparable period. Under his leadership solvency was restored to the insurance fund that provides mortgages for millions of homeowners.

He also led the reorganization of FHA's single-family field operations to improve and streamline operations by reducing 81 field offices to four Homeownership Centers. Under his oversight, FHA created 350 Neighborhood Network Centers across the United States, linking low- and moderate-income youth and families living in HUD housing to the Internet.

Retsinas has built a strong reputation for reaching out to state governments, businesses, and nonprofit groups in tackling the nation's housing problems. Under his direction more FHA-owned single-family homes were sold to nonprofits over the past four years than in the previous 60. He was also successful in leveraging the expertise and resources of the public and private sectors by implementing risk-sharing agreements with 30 state housing finance agencies and private companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

President Clinton also appointed Retsinas to serve as director of the Office of Thrift Supervision from October 1996 through November 1997, making him responsible for regulatory supervision of all federal and many state-chartered thrift institutions. He also served as acting chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board from January 1994 to May 1995.

Currently a director of the Federal Housing Finance Board, Retsinas also serves on the boards of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and the Advisory Board of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.

Retsinas has been an adjunct assistant professor of urban studies at Brown University. He received his master's degree in city planning from Harvard and his A.B. in economics from New York University.

Retsinas will assume his responsibilities on March 1.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies, a collaborative venture of the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Kennedy School of Government, is nationally known for its housing research and policy analysis. In commenting about the appointment, Peter G. Rowe, Dean of the GSD's Faculty of Design, said, "Nic's dedication to improving the quality of housing and access to housing by all persons in the nation will serve as the guiding goal for the Center. His experience in working with a broad cross-section of public and private parties that come together to create the nation's housing will be a valuable asset to the Center's research and outreach programs. We are pleased to bring such a distinguished practitioner to Harvard in this leadership role."


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College