Shelterforce Interview: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan
Plucked from New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Shaun Donovan is leading the effort to make the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into a relevant, powerful agency.
One needs to look no further than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to find change in Washington. HUD was an agency that had long been criticized as a boutique agency lacking a central urban policy and wrought with distractions—so much so that Kermit Lind, a Cleveland State University law professor who specializes in housing issues, observed when Shaun Donovan was selected to lead the agency that it was “not often you see the word competent and HUD in the same sentence.”
Donovan came into this post wearing his New York City portfolio on his sleeve. Plucked from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development, his selection alone to lead the agency provided an indication that the newly elected president was trying to make HUD into a relevant, powerful agency. Donovan helped to implement New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 10-year, $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan, which is the largest municipal housing plan in the country and a model for how to create and preserve affordable housing for cities across the country, as well as helping to oversee the New York City Acquisition Fund, $200 million that allows access to capital for the affordable housing industry. The fund helps nonprofit and local developers acquire property for affordable housing construction and preservation.
Donovan sat down with Shelterforce in October 2009 in his Washington office to discuss a changing agency, the evolving role of nonprofits, and the ongoing housing challenges facing the country: “while I think we are making progress, we have a long way to go.”
Harold Simon is executive director of the National Housing Institute
Matthew Brian Hersh is senior editor at Shelterforce