Edward Augustus Jr.

Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll today announced that they are naming former Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus to serve as the state’s first housing secretary in more than 30 years.

Augustus, who helped to create thousands of new housing units at all income levels during his tenure in Worcester, will lead the administration’s new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities beginning on June 1.

Healey said Augustus will “drive an ambitious, collaborative strategy to increase housing production and lower costs across the state.”

“He left Worcester a stronger city than it was a decade ago,” she said, and he is intimately familiar with local government and knows what it takes to collaborate with municipalities to move our state forward on our housing goals.”

Driscoll said the establishment of a cabinet-level secretariat dedicated solely to housing “will have a major impact on Massachusetts’ ability to address this crisis and lower costs across the state.”

“Ed Augustus has the right experience, vision and drive to lead this important work,” Driscoll said. “His motto is, ‘How do we get to yes?,’ which is an approach our entire administration is embracing. We’re committed to partnering with cities and towns to ensure they have the resources and support they need to give a hearty ‘Yes!’ to housing development in their communities.”

Augustus said the housing crisis affects every community in Massachusetts, adding that “we know what the solution is: build more housing.”

“This administration recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to achieving this, and that we must work closely with communities to deploy a diverse toolbox of options to meet their unique needs,” he said.

For nearly nine years in Worcester (2014-2022), Augustus was the chief administrative and executive officer of a Gateway City of more than 200,000 people. He oversaw the commitment or distribution of $25.3 million in Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and Worcester Lead Abatement and Healthy Homes Program funds to develop or preserve more than 2,000 affordable housing units throughout the city. (Worcester has the third-largest subsidized housing inventory in the state.) Augustus also dedicated $30 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to housing, including $15 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Augustus spearheaded the $240 million landmark redevelopment of Worcester’s Canal District, including leading negotiations to relocate the Boston Red Sox AAA-affiliate (now the WooSox) to the city and construction of the multi-use Polar Park stadium, hotel, and housing development, as well as the Kelley Square intersection redesign.

Augustus has also served as director of government and community relations for the College of Holy Cross, senator for the 2nd Worcester District, chief of staff for Congressman Jim McGovern, and chief of staff to the assistant secretary for Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education under President Clinton. For the past year, he had been serving as chancellor of Dean College.

On March 1, Gov. Healey filed legislation under Article 87 to create the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities and move the Department of Housing and Community Development out of the current Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into the new secretariat. The legislation also broadens the office’s scope of work to include housing production.

The administration said the new cabinet-level secretariat will be solely dedicated to housing and driving solutions to create more homes and lower costs. It will focus on the urgent need to build places to live that are affordable and closer to public transit. The housing secretary will work collaboratively with stakeholders — public housing authorities, cities and towns, the federal government, nonprofits, developers, landlords, renters and advocates — to develop a comprehensive housing development and stabilization strategy. The secretariat will also administer financial assistance and programs focused on housing production, rehabilitation, preservation, affordability, stability and security, while centering fairness and equity with every opportunity.