In a signal that he is going to emphasize the affordable housing construction mission of the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), President-elect Obama announced Saturday Shaun Donovan, the head of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development will be his nominee to run HUD. According to the New York Times Donovan, “worked in the Clinton administration as acting federal housing commissioner and, earlier, as eputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing, overseeing subsidies and properties for about two million families.”
He has a strong background in housing and has pushed for inclusive zoning, which allows developers to build bigger buildings in exchange for mixing low-income units into the market-rate development, and other progressive measures. Liberals are receiving the news enthusiastically.
Some articles suggested that this was bad news for Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who had been considered a top contender for the HUD job. But little did they know that the very next day word would leak that Carrion would be tapped to lead the new White House Office of Urban Policy. This pair of choices makes a fair amount of sense to me. While HUD typically goes to a person of color, Obama chose the housing expert for HUD and Carrion, who has a city planning degree and experience, as well as having taught in New York public schools, for the broader urban position. Of course, this might be bad news for New York City’s other leading contenders for cabinet positions, such as Joel Klein who is rumored to be on the short list for Secretary of Education, and Janette Sadik-Khan, who may be a far outside contender for Secretary of Transportation.
Ben Adler is a journalist in New York. He is a former reporter for Grist, The Nation, Newsweek and Politico, and he has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian and The New Republic.