After a six-month national search, the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) board named Ed Hinojosa Jr., who had been leading the agency on an interim basis, as its CEO.
Hinojosa, who was one of two finalists, had served as interim CEO since former head David Nisivoccia left in January to lead the Denver Housing Authority. Largely funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, SAHA provides housing assistance to more than 65,000 children, adults, and seniors.
“I am humbled by the appointment to serve SAHA,” Hinojosa stated in a news release Wednesday. “I have seen the agency make positive strides in the last few years, but there is so much more work to be done. I am eager to continue the agency’s affordable housing mission that respects the families we serve and demonstrates compassion and empathy to the challenges they are facing.”
He has worked at SAHA for 17 years, including 12 as chief financial officer. Hinojosa also serves as board chair for the HAI Group, a public housing insurance company, and is on the board of Credit Human, a credit union.
As CEO of SAHA, Hinojosa will focus on increasing the public housing stock in San Antonio and shifting the agency’s approach to treat housing as a human right, according to the agency’s news release.
With an annual operating budget of $186 million, the agency employees more than 500 people, manages 71 public housing properties and more than 13,000 housing vouchers, and has 45 mixed-income properties in its portfolio.
“It was important for this board to find the right individual with both knowledge of the housing industry but also the compassion to meet the needs of our residents,” Chair Ana Margarita “Cha” Guzman stated. “Ed uniquely understands the intricacies of the industry but also the unique needs of the community. As San Antonio grapples with the ongoing affordable housing crisis, we are confident Ed will propel the agency forward to meet this challenge with ingenuity and benevolence.”
Soon after taking the helm in January, Hinojosa reversed course on a controversial plan to raze and redevelop the Alazán-Apache Courts, the city’s largest and oldest public housing complex.
This action was among the reasons some housing advocates praised his appointment, including Sofia Lopez, who previously served on the SAHA board. Earlier this week, she sent the current board a letter in support of Hinojosa.
“He was pretty direct in naming the possible negative consequences” of the Alazán redevelopment, Lopez told the San Antonio Report. She credited him “for having that sensitivity to an impending disaster.”
While SAHA’s handling of the debilitating winter storms in February was criticized by some elected officials and advocacy groups, Lopez said Hinojosa handled the situation with “grace.”
“Opportunistic” elected officials and candidates called “for his head on a platter without offering any kind of support or solutions,” she said. “I feel like he handled that with grace, and I am hopeful that SAHA and the council members that we have now have supportive relationships and I think are more often asking the questions of what has been done to that agency to take away its capacity to handle the crisis, rather than pointing fingers at individuals.”
After Nisivoccia’s departure, several housing advocates called for community participation in the process to hire a new CEO.
Each board member selected a community member to interview some of the candidates and their feedback was considered by the board, but Lopez said a broader discussion about the future of the agency should have been held with SAHA residents.
“I think a recognition that the people who have to live with the consequences should have a role in shaping their future,” she said.
“I would have imagined that a public process probably would have yielded the same result,” she acknowledged, but more transparency could have eased tensions between residents, advocates, and the agency.