Former state housing director, HUD official joins Berkeley housing center

UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation has hired Ben Metcalf as their new managing director. Metcalf, who has nearly 20 years of experience researching and implementing housing policy at the local, state and federal levels, will lead the center’s policy work around housing affordability.

Metcalf was, until last year, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Prior to that post, he served as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, overseeing multifamily housing programs. He was appointed by former president Barack Obama.

A Berkeley native, Metcalf began his new post at UC Berkeley last week, and says he aims to harness the Terner Center’s “academic horsepower” to improve housing policy.

Ben Metcalf smiles at the camera

Ben Metcalf is joining the Terner Center for Housing Innovation. (Photo courtesy Ben Metcalf)

“Policymakers and business leaders are looking for folks to give them the roadmap and the strategy for effective housing policy. The Terner Center is really well positioned to do that right now,” said Metcalf. “So being that bridge between practice and policy, between research and implementation, that’s where I feel like I can make the biggest impact.”

The Terner Center is a joint project between UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and the Haas School of Business to advance solutions in research, policy and practice that helps house families in affordable homes and communities. In October, the center compiled best practices in implementing effective land use reform across the state.

“Ben is an outstanding leader and agile policymaker, focused on taking the necessary bold steps to improve the affordability crisis that challenges our state and nation,” said Carol Galante, the Terner Center’s faculty eirector and the I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor in Affordable Housing and Urban Policy. “We already have a stellar team engaged in this work, yet there is so much more we believe we can and should be doing. We are excited to have Ben’s vision, experience, and passion. I look forward to what our team will accomplish together.”

From 2015 to 2019, Metcalf led California’s housing department as director, initially under former governor Jerry Brown, and more recently under the current governor, Gavin Newsom. Metcalf helped to expand the state’s housing and land use.

He was also instrumental in the implementation of the 2017 housing package that aimed to create new affordable homes and preserve existing ones throughout the state.

“For me, stepping out of the government scrum and getting to a place like the Terner Center, where I could join this team to really start thinking strategically about long-term solutions, was really attractive,” said Metcalf. “Carol Galante and the team here at Terner have really built an incredible brand over the last few years as sort of the place in California where the best housing research and policy is happening.”

Metcalf grew up just minutes from campus, where his father taught as a history professor. His mother, also a professor of history, received her PhD at UC Berkeley. He says he has had a loyalty and respect for UC Berkeley ever since.

“It is satisfying to be working for an organization that has such broad national reach like the Terner Center, but also an institution that I have had a personal tie to over my lifetime,” he said.