Housing Agencies Praise Shaun Donovan’s Appointment as New HUD Secretary

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–President-Elect Barack Obama has appointed Shaun Donovan, New York City’s former commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), as the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Obama said Saturday that Donovan will play a key role in tackling the mortgage crisis and helping families stay in their homes.Donovan will bring “fresh thinking” to HUD, Obama said, pledging that his nominee will abandon “old ideology and outdated ideas” that have stymied some of the agency’s past efforts.”We can’t keep throwing money at the problem, hoping for a different result,” Obama said in his weekly radio address, which was also released on YouTube. “We need to approach the old challenge of affordable housing with new energy, new ideas and a new, efficient style of leadership.”Several housing agency directors reacted favorably to this latest appointment. Keith Fairey, deputy director at the New York office of Enterprise Community Partners, tells MHN that Donovan not only has the vision and ideas to turn around the housing crisis but also the capacity to implement both. “He will focus the agency on working closely to address issues of the housing crisis and challenges we now face with homeownership. He will focus the agency on multifamily rental housing. At the same time, he also has a good understanding of homeownership across the spectrum.” Fairey tells MHN that Donovan has already been working behind the scenes to make affordable housing more sustainable—both environmentally and economically.The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supported the choice. “Donovan is brilliant choice for HUD. He is an expert on the full range of housing issues and has a proven track record of getting things done,” says Sheila Crowley, president of the NLIHC. “And he enjoys high regard across the spectrum of housing interests, from low-income housing and homeless advocates, public officials, developers and financiers alike.”  “Donovan is uniquely qualified to take on one of the most challenging jobs in the Obama Administration. The country is in the throes of a recession precipitated by the foreclosure crisis, which must be solved. Foreclosures and the recession are causing a new surge in homelessness which the new Administration and Congress must act quickly to stop by increasing the supply of rental homes affordable to the lowest income families,” says Crowley.The National Housing Trust (NHT) also applauded the choice. Donovan is a member of NHT’s Board of Directors.  “We are in the midst of a national economic crisis with literally millions of Americans losing their homes,” Michael Bodaken, president of NHT, says. “President-elect Obama could not have chosen a more capable leader to give hope to those in need and reinvigorate our nation’s cities and distressed neighborhoods. Donovan has the right experience, judgment and leadership ability to restore a vision to HUD that recognizes the critical role that affordable housing plays in the well-being of millions of working families.” Bodaken says that during his time as NYC Housing Commissioner, Donovan developed the largest affordable housing plan in the nation and spearheaded innovative solutions to build and preserve more than 80,000 affordable homes in neighborhoods throughout the city. During his time as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing at HUD, he pioneered new tools for preserving and improving more than two million affordable apartments.Denise Muha, executive director of the National Leased Housing Association (NLHA), also praised Donovan, saying he is an excellent choice for HUD Secretary. “An NLHA board member, he is well known to our members and has demonstrated an understanding of affordable housing preservation needs as well as affordable rental management and production challenges. We are thrilled that Obama has recognized the importance of the HUD post by selecting Donovan.”