Cathy E. Creswell

Cathy Creswell retired from State service in 2012 and currently consults on housing and planning issues. She also continues to advocate on local and statewide housing and planning concerns and serves on a number of Boards and Commissions including the Sacramento Housing Alliance, Continuum of Care Advisory Board, and the Sherriff’s Reentry Council.

Cathy E. Creswell served as Acting Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) from January 2011 until February 2012. As Director, Cathy was responsible for oversight of HCD’s housing finance and community development programs; state housing policy, planning and code-setting processes. She administered the allocation of millions in Proposition 46 and C bond funds for affordable housing and federal resources for housing and community development. During her term as Director, Cathy

  • Worked to restart bond funding for thousands of housing units and shelter beds.
  • Initiated process to assist self-help builders with stalled projects because of market conditions.
  • Established processes for greater transparency and working more directly with sponsors in implementing policies, procedures and legislation including extensions for the Infill and TOD programs. Improved communications including establishing list serve noticing, regional housing forums and initiating annual HCD Open House to celebrate accomplishments of all HCD partners.
  • Initiated redesign of the loan closing process to improve responsiveness to sponsor needs and reflect current market conditions and changes in capital financing.
  • Initiated reforms to the Enterprise Zone program.

Cathy has been involved in housing and community development since 1979. Prior to her tenure with HCD, Cathy was Director of a Community Development Association in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Director of a tenant counseling organization and served as a consultant to several housing and community development organizations.

She worked for HCD in various roles since 1985 and was appointed as Deputy Director over the Housing Policy Development Division by Governor Gray Davis. Cathy became the longest tenured Deputy in HCD history. She developed, coordinated, and implemented complex analytical, planning, research, and technical assistance activities promoting housing and improving communities. Cathy provided management level supervision of all staff, including directly managing subordinate managers and specialists and developed and oversaw budget, strategic goals and programs. Highlights include:

  • Designed and implemented the: $100 million Jobs/Housing Balance Improvement and Workforce Housing Programs; the State’s first infill planning grant program; $200 million Housing Related Parks Program; and the Catalyst Projects for Sustainable Strategies Pilot Program to support implementation of SB 375.
  • Administered State Housing element law including reviewing housing elements from every California city and county; identifying resources and systems to improve local compliance; and developing technical assistance resources to prepare and implement effective housing elements. Coordinated with regional Councils of Governments developing the regional housing needs plans.
  • Represented the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency on working groups and committees including the CEQA Improvement Task Force, the Climate Action Team Local Government and Smart Growth Subcommittee, and the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards.
  • Represented the Department on State Interagency working groups improving coordination among State agencies on housing, climate change, transportation and air quality issues.
  • Convened working groups and advisory committees identifying administrative and legislative reforms on sensitive public policy issues including State redevelopment and housing element law.
  • Identified State housing and community development needs and developed State policy addressing those needs; identified effective land use and planning strategies promoting livable communities; researched housing markets and conditions; prepared reports and policy papers including statutorily mandated reports such as the Statewide Housing Plan; provided technical assistance to local governments, public agencies, housing providers, advocates and industry groups.
  • Developed and oversaw preparation of the State’s Consolidate Plan for the federal Housing and Urban Development Department to ensure California’s receipt of over $100 million in federal funds.
  • Established and improved technical assistance resources including Web-based materials for housing element updates, down-loadable model elements, analyses and programs; a Housing Resource Center – a comprehensive library collection of books, periodicals, reports, and electronic resources for planning, land use, housing, infrastructure and finance; and an e-mail housing and community development news service.

Other Career Highlights include:

  • Facilitated Legislative Working Group to reform State housing element law. For over a year, led diverse (and often opposing) stakeholders to identify common ground and draft legislation. Resulted in the first consensus housing element reform in history and passage of two bills in 2004.
  • Doubled the number of local governments complying with State housing element law through technical assistance, incentives, and engagement strategies.
  • Successfully established partnerships and joint projects between HCD and other state and regional agencies including the Department of Transportation, Public Health and Governors Office of Planning and Research.
  • Developed and provided technical assistance materials and presentations for workshops, conferences, manuals, and trainings.
  • Initiated HCD’s first audits of Redevelopment Agencies.
  • Developed broad knowledge of housing and community development finance, laws and resources and State planning and environmental laws.
  • Regularly lectures at University of California at Davis Extension program on housing and land use issues and taught classes on housing element and affordable housing development. Regularly made presentations and speeches at State and National conferences.
  • Current Past President and member of the California Planning Roundtable.
  • Founding member and currently serves as Board Member of the Sacramento Housing Alliance.
  • Incorporated and founded Grand Rapids, Michigan’s first Fair Housing Center. 2/2014
Back to Members Directory