Trachtenberg School Co-Hosts Town Hall with HUD Secretary Castro

HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Jonathan Smoke at GW
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, left, sits down with Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke for a discussion about the state of the housing market for millennials. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)

by Michael Downey, MPP '17

November 09, 2015

Millennials care little about buying cars, are fixated on buying experiences, and have no interest in buying houses.  Or so the conventional wisdom goes.

On October 26, the Trachtenberg School, GW School of Business and the National Association of Realtors hosted a conversation with Julian Castro, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which challenged the millennials stereotype.  The conversation highlighted Millennials’ reluctance to enter the housing market as less a shift in mindset and more a reaction to challenging economic forces.

The role of macroeconomic policy was a central theme during the panel discussion featuring Secretary Castro along with Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke and The Wall Street Journal Economics Correspondent Nick Timiraos.

For students in attendance, the conversation hit particularly close to home. 

“Buying a house in today’s economy has seemed out of reach for so many in my generation,” said Alex Severn, MPP ’17. “It was really powerful getting to be in the room and hear Secretary Castro discuss the tools HUD is putting in place to ease the process for first-time homebuyers.”

For a generation that is shying away from careers in government, opportunities for students to meet federal policymakers and see how their work influences everyday Americans are invaluable. 

“Getting to see all of these big names on a weekly basis, from Julian Castro, to Joe Biden and Walter Mondale, to Nancy Pelosi and Susan Rice, this was the reason I wanted to go to school in Washington, D.C.” said Rachel Schwartz, MPA ’17. “It humanizes the federal government and strengthens my desire to go into public service.”