Posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008 11:39 AM by Domenico Montanaro
From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro
New York City housing commissioner Shaun Donovan was named Obama’s choice for secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the president-elect’s weekly radio address this morning.
Before joining the Bloomberg administration in 2004, Donovan, 42 — who was also an adviser to the Obama campaign — was a managing director at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company where he was responsible for its investment in affordable housing loans, including the Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae, according to the New York Times.
He has worked at HUD before — as a deputy assistant secretary during the Clinton administration. He has also worked in academia and was even an architect in Italy. He holds a master’s in Public Policy and Architecture from Harvard.
The Bloomberg administration has stirred controversy in New York City for expanding upscale housing development in lower-income areas. Critics have, at times, accused the administration of not creating enough affordable housing and caring more about gentrification.
“No one holds a position like his without making some enemies and stirring some controversy, and Mr. Donovan is no exception,” the New York Times wrote. “And though he has hands-on experience managing the vast bureaucracy and special interests involved in housing in New York City, he still faces the challenge of managing a federal agency that some critics call dysfunctional.”
Here’s what Obama said about HUD and Donovan in his weekly radio address:
“From providing shelter to those displaced by Katrina to giving help to those facing the loss of a home to revitalizing our cities and communities, HUD’s role has never been more important. Since its founding, HUD has been dedicated to tearing down barriers in access to affordable housing — in an effort to make America more equal and more just. Too often, these efforts have had mixed results.
“That is why we can’t keep doing things the old Washington way. We can’t keep throwing money at the problem, hoping for a different result. We need to approach the old challenge of affordable housing with new energy, new ideas, and a new, efficient style of leadership. We need to understand that the old ways of looking at our cities just won’t do. That means promoting cities as the backbone of regional growth by not only solving the problems in our cities, but seizing the opportunities in our growing suburbs, exurbs, and metropolitan areas. No one knows this better than the outstanding public servant I am announcing today as our next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – Shaun Donovan.
“As Commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City, Shaun has led the effort to create the largest housing plan in the nation, helping hundreds of thousands of our citizens buy or rent their homes. Prior to joining Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, Shaun worked both in business, where he was responsible for affordable housing investments, and at one of our nation’s top universities, where he researched and wrote about housing issues. This appointment represents something of a homecoming for Shaun, who worked at HUD in the Clinton administration, leading an effort to help make housing affordable for nearly two million Americans. Trained as an architect, Shaun understands housing down to how homes are designed, built, and wired.
“With experience that stretches from the public sector to the private sector to academia, Shaun will bring to this important post fresh thinking, unencumbered by old ideology and outdated ideas. He understands that we need to move past the stale arguments that say low-income Americans shouldn’t even try to own a home or that our mortgage crisis is due solely to a few greedy lenders. He knows that we can put the dream of owning a home within reach for more families, so long as we’re making loans in the right way, and so long as those who buy a home are prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership.
“In the end, expanding access to affordable housing isn’t just about caring for the least fortunate among us and strengthening our middle class – it’s about ending our housing mess, climbing out of our financial crisis, and putting our economy on the path to long-term growth and prosperity.”
Donovan’s bio, per the transition team:
Donovan was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in March 2004 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Mr. Donovan worked at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company as managing director of its FHA lending and affordable housing investments. Prior to Prudential, Donovan was a visiting scholar at New York University, where he researched and wrote about the preservation of federally-assisted housing. He was also a consultant to the Millennial Housing Commission on strategies for increasing the production of multifamily housing. The Commission was created by the United States Congress to recommend ways to expand housing opportunities across the nation.
Until March of 2001, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing at HUD, the primary federal official responsible for privately-owned multifamily housing. He also served as acting FHA Commissioner during the presidential transition. Prior to joining HUD, Donovan worked at the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) in New York City, a non-profit lender and developer of affordable housing. He also researched and wrote about housing policy at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University and worked as an architect in New York and Italy. He holds Masters degrees in Public Administration and Architecture from Harvard University.