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Utah state treasurer resigns to take helm of Utah Housing Corporation

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Utah State Treasurer David Damschen works in his office at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Jan. 25, 2019. Damschen is tasked to find ways for medical marijuana businesses and state agencies to get or maintain banking services.

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen works in his office at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Jan. 25, 2019. Damschen announced Monday he is resigning April 30, 2021, to become president and CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation.

Silas Walker, Deseret News

Utah’s state treasurer on Monday announced his resignation, effective April 30.

Utah State Treasurer David Damschen was selected by the Utah Housing Corporation board of trustees to take the position as president and CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation starting May 3, according to a news release issued by the Utah Office of State Treasurer.

Damschen will take the position in place of Grant Whitaker, the Utah Housing Corporation’s current president and CEO, who is retiring after 42 years with the organization and 12 years as its leader.

Damschen will take the helm of the corporation, which was created by state lawmakers in 1975 with a mission to provide affordable financing of single-family homes and apartments for people with low and moderate income.

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve as treasurer of our great state,” Damschen said in a prepared statement Monday. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside other state leaders to ensure Utah remains a leader in the nation for its broad fiscal and economic strength, to provide resources to empower Utahns to achieve financial and economic success and to protect individual property rights.

“While I am sad to leave the office, I am equally excited for the opportunity to continue my public service by joining the outstanding team at Utah Housing to help address the critical and growing problem of housing affordability in Utah. That mission is as important now as ever given the state’s affordable housing crisis.”

Gov. Spencer Cox, in a prepared statement issued Monday, thanked Damschen for his service.

“As state treasurer for the past five years, David Damschen has safeguarded individual property rights and greatly contributed to Utah’s tremendous economic success,” Cox said. “We’re grateful for his commitment to public service and wish him every success as CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation.”

Damschen served as Utah’s 25th treasurer, appointed to the office in 2015 and reelected to a four year term in 2016 and again in 2020. Before his time as state treasurer, he served as chief deputy state treasurer for seven years.

Before serving as Utah’s chief deputy state treasurer, Damschen spent most of his nearly 20 years in the private sector in the institutional trust and custody, treasury management and retail divisions of a national banking organization.

As he heads toward retirement, Whitaker said he’s confident Damschen is the right person to take his place.

“While leaving brings on mixed emotions, I know Utah Housing is in good hands with David and a proven team of professionals,” Whitaker said a prepared statement.

Whitaker also reflected on how Utah Housing Corporation has evolved to meet changing housing needs.

“While Utah Housing’s mission has remained unchanged, the activities surrounding that mission have evolved,” Whitaker said. “We have stretched limited resources and identified new means to serve a population that continues to grow.”

Soon after Whitaker was selected as president and CEO, the U.S. fell into the Great Recession of 2008.

“My team implemented programs and changes that enabled us to not only weather that storm but to build a stronger and more nimble entity that provides Utahns more diverse types of financial assistance,” Whitaker said.

Under Whitaker’s leadership, Utah Housing Corporation “evolved to meet the challenges of a dynamic Utah housing market by providing diverse financing programs,” Monday’s news release states.

Homeownership programs included FirstHome, which offers a second mortgage loan for a homebuyer’s downpayment, and HomeAgain, which helps previous homeowners buy another home with down payment assistance. Utah Housing Corporation has also been active in the financing of special needs housing, such as permanent supportive housing that provides robust on-site services for people with addictions, psychiatric disabilities and domestic-abuse victims who would otherwise be homeless.

“We are incredibly grateful for Grant’s service to Utah Housing over the last four decades,” Utah Housing Corporation Board of Trustees Chairman Lerron Little said. “Under his leadership, the Utah Housing team has developed and implemented innovative programs to address the housing needs of many Utahns who otherwise would not have access to affordable housing opportunities.

Little said the board looks forward to working with Damschen “as we usher in a new era and work to alleviate the barriers to affordable housing the current market presents to low and moderate income Utahns.”

Gov. Spencer Cox is now slated to appoint an acting treasurer who will serve temporarily following Damschen’s departure until a new state treasurer is appointed. He or she will serve until 2022, until after a new state treasurer is elected during the next general election.

To fill the vacancy, the Utah Republican Party’s State Central Committee will nominate three candidates to replace Damschen. Cox will then choose one of those nominees.