Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros spoke about issues facing cities today before a crowd of about 140 at the Cadillac Service Garage on East Market Street on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Cisneros, who before being appointed HUD secretary by President Bill Clinton, was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas – the seventh largest city in the US – said that for the first time in the history of mankind, more people are living in urban centers than in rural areas.

Cisneros was brought to Greensboro by the Greensboro Planning Department at a cost of about $10,000 as part of the PLANIT GSO effort to upgrade the Connections 2025: Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in 2003. So it was no surprise that Cisneros spoke about the need for cities to plan for the future. He said when he was mayor in 1983, they came up with a plan called “Target 1990,” which was a list of projects they hoped to accomplish by 1990. He said of 144 goals, 120 have been accomplished. But Cisneros said the key was that the 144 goals were developed by “500 leading citizens.” Cisneros said then when they needed public support, “we had 500 people signed up and ready to go to create the San Antonio that we have today.”

Cisneros said, “Greensboro is poised to participate in the new American economy.”

He added, “This is a city that has the elements, the base, to be a major part of the American economy going forward.

He praised Greensboro for the emphasis on inclusivity saying that the city “had a climate of inclusiveness better than many of the cities in the South.”

Cisneros also said that moving forward cities would not be able to look to the federal government to play the role of mediator between the haves and have nots, because the federal government was running out of money.

He also praised North Carolina for the efforts it had made to create its own future.

Cisneros suggested one way for the City of Greensboro to ensure future growth and prosperity was to get involved in education, particularly at the pre-school and community college levels.

Cisneros said he understood Greensboro was short of affordable housing and said that affordable housing had to be linked to transit. He said in San Antonio the city was using Yellow Cab to fill holes in the transit system and planned to start using Uber and Lyft as well.