Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Mel Martinez was the nation's 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, and took his oath of office on January 24, 2001.
In nominating Martinez, President George W. Bush said: "Since leaving his Cuban homeland as a boy, Mel Martinez has been the embodiment of the American dream and has had great success in helping the people of his community obtain affordable housing and urban services." Martinez's work in the public and private sectors, his active involvement in community activities, and his understanding of the work of faith-based social service agencies make him particularly well suited to serve as leader of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Under the leadership of Secretary Martinez, HUD expanded homeownership opportunities to more Americans, particularly minority and low-income families, through innovative budget initiatives and partnerships with community-based housing providers. Martinez had undertaken a comprehensive process to empower and protect homebuyers, and was actively working to reform and simplify the homebuying process and make it less expensive for consumers.
Secretary Martinez was ensuring that HUD - as the federal agency that oversees the nation's affordable housing and provides housing assistance for low-income persons - improves the quality and availability of public housing. The plan by Martinez to stimulate affordable housing production by increasing FHA multifamily loan limits represents the first such increase in nearly a decade.
By reactivating the Interagency Council on the Homeless and the joint homeless task force, Secretary Martinez has brought a new commitment within HUD to those who have no home to call their own. Martinez was ensuring that the resources of the federal government work efficiently together to provide better services to the homeless, and ultimately, end chronic homelessness.
Martinez brought with him to HUD a new sense of ethics and a focus on streamlined management. In keeping with the President's management and performance agenda, Martinez was enhancing the organizational structure of HUD, strengthening HUD leadership, and improving communication and coordination - with a focus on results.
As a leader in implementing President Bush's faith-based initiatives, Secretary Martinez launched HUD's Center for Faith-Based and Community Services. The Center is working to expand partnerships with local faith-based service providers who assist the homeless, elderly, and disabled, and those living with HIV/AIDS.
HUD works with local communities to help them meet their development needs, and Secretary Martinez has taken a leadership role in the national dialogue on growth management issues.
Before he came to the Department, Secretary Martinez was the elected Chairman of Orange County, Florida, in Orlando, and served on the Governor's Growth Management Study Commission. He previously served as President of the Orlando Utilities Commission, on the board of directors of a community bank, and as Chairman of the Orlando Housing Authority. Born October 23, 1946, in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, Martinez fled to America in 1962 as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Pedro Pan that eventually brought 14,000 children to this country. Catholic charitable groups provided Martinez, who was alone and spoke virtually no English, a temporary home at two youth facilities. He subsequently lived with two foster families, with whom he remains close. He was reunited with his family in Orlando in 1966.
Martinez graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 1973. During his 25 years of law practice in Orlando, he was actively involved in community activities. He served as Vice President of the Board of Catholic Charities of the Orlando Diocese, and has a deep appreciation for the work of faith-based social service agencies going back to his arrival in America almost 40 years ago.
Secretary Martinez and his wife have three children and recently welcomed a new granddaughter.