What’s up at HUD?

June 9, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Department of Housing & Urban Development | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,
Housing conditions in the settlement of workers in Alabama Canning Co. Two families to a house, but they are separated. Housing conditions fairly good. Location: Bayou La Batre, Alabama.  1911 February.   Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer.

Housing conditions in the settlement of workers in Alabama Canning Co. Two families to a house, but they are separated. Housing conditions fairly good. Location: Bayou La Batre, Alabama. 1911 February. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer.

What’s Shaun Donovan, the Secretary for Housing & Urban Development, up to?

In mid April the LA Times reported statements by Secretary Donovan about energy-efficient housing:

(LATimes) Donovan said his agency was in the early stages of discussions with federal energy officials to develop “a relatively simple scoring system for housing that would allow you to understand what you’re buying and at the same time allow lenders to factor that into their mortgage. Ultimately, if your energy bills are going to be lower, there ought to be some [mortgage] benefits to that.”

The system might also factor in transportation costs to employment centers in some way, he said, because “most people don’t realize that the average American family spends over 50% of their income on a combination of housing and transportation.” Even with far-flung suburbs’ lower prices for houses, “their transportation costs are huge” — and metropolitan sprawl itself represents a massive energy-consumption inefficiency.

It sounds as though Secretary Donovan is working hard on behalf of his employers, the American people:

(Economist) A “Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan” announced in February, aims to help 7m-9m homeowners stay in their homes. On May 12th it announced that a $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers could be used as down-payment on a mortgage from the FHA. Earlier this month, HUD said it would provide $2 billion in stimulus funds to stabilise neighbourhoods hit by foreclosure. More than any other HUD secretary, Mr Donovan is sitting “at the table” with the president and Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary.

[snip]

Even as he battles the housing crisis, Mr Donovan is setting an agenda, one not seen in decades. He wants HUD to be more than the department of subsidised housing, and hopes to focus too on the urban development side. A big fan of statistics, he looked at foreclosure patterns and observed that neighbourhoods with the highest rates were in the least sustainable places, in isolated suburbs and older urban areas far away from jobs and schools. This suggests that the recession may shake out and slim down cities, making them eventually better places to live.

Mr Donovan is already collaborating with Arne Duncan, the education secretary, and the heads of the Departments of Energy and Transport, as well as Mr Geithner. He is keenly aware that HUD is not just for cities—that traditional “urban problems”, such as poverty and affordable housing, are now regional problems. Conversely, he is aware that urban development is also about better transport links and better schools. It all hangs together.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: