David Nisivoccia’s position as the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA)’s interim president and CEO was made permanent Tuesday by the agency’s board of commissioners.

Nisivoccia, who has lead the organization since March 2015, was unanimously chosen out of 20 applicants for the job and was one of four candidates interviewed by the board at the end of last month.

“David brings previous CEO experience from public housing authorities in Florida and Louisiana,” Board Chair Dr. Morris Stribling stated in a news release. “He has done very well in leading SAHA in an interim capacity, and we are confident that he will continue to drive SAHA’s reputation as a nationally-acclaimed, high-performing housing authority.”

Nisivoccia, who spent most of his life in Northern Virginia, has more than 20 years of executive and senior management experience in affordable housing. Throughout his career he has held leadership positions with Fort Pierce, Clearwater , and Morgan City housing authorities, among others.

He joined SAHA as chief operations officer in April 2013, excited to join an agency highly regarded throughout the nation. As president and CEO of Texas’ largest public housing authority, he will oversee more than 500 employees and earn $225,000 annually, with the opportunity to earn bonuses based on performance.

Beyond always having had an interest in development and housing, Nisivoccia told the Rivard Report that his parents instilled service as a key value in him from an early age. That combination led him to a career in public housing.

David Nisivoccia Interim President & CEO of SAHA and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro share a moment while touring an East Meadows townhouse.
Then-Interim President & CEO of SAHA David Nisivoccia and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro share a moment while touring an East Meadows townhouse. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

I had an opportunity, I thought, to have my passion and also tie that into service and affordable housing,” he said, “which then lead to housing authorities.”

Nisivoccia is succeeding the Housing Authority’s prior chief executive, Lourdes Castro Ramirez, who was appointed Principal Deputy Secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro in February 2015.

Over the past nearly two years, he has overseen the Housing Authority’s numerous community projects as well as the agency’s Wheatley Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant. The $100 million grant is transforming the former Wheatley Courts development on the Eastside to East Meadows, a new, mixed-income complex that will rehouse previous residents.

The first phase of the project opened in October.

Multiple housing units are now complete and ready for neighbors at East Meadows.
Multiple housing units are now complete and ready for neighbors at East Meadows, the former Wheatley Courts housing project. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Housing Authority was also awarded the Promise Neighborhoods planning grant and the Promise Zone grant, making San Antonio the only community in the U.S. to have those three major HUD grants, Nisivoccia said. It also was awarded the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant, which was recently sunsetted.

A key priority for the agency moving forward, Nisivoccia said, is bolstering services for San Antonio’s homeless population.

“(The Housing Authority) can be a facilitator of that resolution,” he said. 

Nisivoccia also hopes to improve the agency’s customer service, introduce more energy efficient initiatives, and focus on creating new business silos that bring in additional new revenue and resources into the agency, “so we can help underwrite the flesh and blood part of what we do, which is serving those less fortunate than ourselves.”

San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., which means affordable housing is becoming more scarce, especially in the inner city. Given that reality, Nisivoccia called the City’s first-ever housing bond, which will go in front of voters in May 2017, “wonderful news.”

Especially when you look at the potential of San Antonio’s growth over the next 10 years and what that means to the city, population, the economy, and home and apartment pricing and rents, I think it’s paramount that the City (addresses the lack of affordable housing),” he said.

City Council recently took the first step in implementing the housing bond Thursday when it voted to include 13 geographic areas targeted for affordable housing development and other neighborhood improvements in the city’s Urban Renewal Plan.

As the effort develops, Nisivoccia said the Housing Authority hopes to help ensure “that the clients that require and deserve (affordable) housing ultimately benefit from the housing bond.”

As one of the nation’s leading public housing authorities, the San Antonio Housing Authority has more than $500 million in real estate assets and a more than $200 million operations and capital budget per year. The agency has experienced growth and positive momentum over the last eight years, Nisivoccia said, and he doesn’t anticipate that momentum slowing down any time soon.

We look forward to working with the greater community to ensure that our clients have opportunities to bring themselves to self sufficiency,” he said, “(so) that when they’re done, they (can) open up opportunities for another deserving family.”

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com