Gustavo Velasquez is director of the Urban Institute’s Washington-Area Research Initiative, a cross-center initiative and multidisciplinary program of evidence and policy analysis focused on the national capital region. As a reliable source of evidence and advice, Urban’s Washington-Area Research Initiative provides insights from research to policymakers and practitioners in ways both relevant and actionable.
Velasquez served for nearly three years as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He served on behalf of the president as the strategic lead of the fair housing and inclusive community agenda for the Obama administration. During his tenure, HUD achieved groundbreaking enforcement victories in fair lending and in major housing discrimination cases. Velasquez led efforts to promulgate the landmark Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, a key tool for cities, states, and other HUD funding recipients to reduce inequality and disparities in access to opportunity.
Velasquez worked in executive roles in the administrations of DC mayors Anthony Williams, Adrian Fenty, and Vincent Gray. He also has nonprofit experience as executive director of the Latino Economic Development Center, a local community development organization in Washington, DC, and Congreso de Latinos Unidos, the leading social service provider to Latinos in Philadelphia.
Velasquez has served in numerous boards and committees of financial institutions, civil rights groups, and educational organizations at the local and national levels. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master’s degree in public administration.