In his weekly address, President-elect Barack Obama announced he was selecting the “widely respected housing commissioner for New York City,” Shaun Donovan, to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Donovan worked at HUD in the Clinton administration, leading an effort to help make housing affordable for nearly two million Americans. He “has experience in all facets of the affordable housing market, having worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors and in academia as a scholar of housing policy.” In his address, Obama said this appointment signals a new way of approaching the challenge of affordable housing:
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.
Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports that, in a conversation with Donovan in 2004, the future HUD Secretary foresaw the subprime crisis. “Donovan brushed aside my questions about the city’s initiatives and began talking at length about the coming ‘flood’ of foreclosures he anticipated among highly leveraged apartment buildings purchased by recent immigrants — and a looming subprime crisis for one- and two-family homeowners in up-and-coming neighborhoods in southeast Queens and central Brooklyn.”