HUD Secretary showcases role of urban development

What a welcome change.

The new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is in Atlanta, participating in the 2009 Urban Land Institute Spring Council Forum.
What a welcome change.

The new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is in Atlanta, participating in the 2009 Urban Land Institute Spring Council Forum.

Shaun Donovan, President Barack Obama’s pick for HUD secretary, spoke to the congregation of planners, developers, builders and others interested in the future of cities.

“In recent years, HUD has become the Department of Subsidized Housing,” Donovan said. “We want to put the UD back in HUD.”

In other words, Donovan wants recalibrate the department to serve its larger mission of “urban development,” a focus that has been missing in previous administrations.

“The design, location and quality of housing have a dramatic effect on the quality of place,” Donovan said, adding that there will be new urban development initiatives. “This larger vision is especialy relevant today. Now more than ever before in our history, quality of place drives the free flow of capital.”

The top 100 metro areas in the United States now are the homes of two-thirds of our nation’s population.

“Cities are regaining their status in the context of 60 years of suburban and exurban growth,” Donovan said. Today, the lines between central cities and suburbs are blurred. Traditional urban problems, such as poverty and crime, now have found their way to the suburbs.

Donovan mentioned a series of programs that are being adopted by the new administration.

HUD is partnering with the Department of Energy on a strategy to make housing developments more energy efficient.

HUD also is partnering with the Department of Transportation to create more integrated communities that look at housing, transportation and land-use.

Donovan also endorsed the HOPE 6 program where older public housing communities are being razed to make way for mixed-income developments. Atlanta has been a pioneer of HOPE 6 projects, including the transformation of the old Techwood Homes into Centennial Place going back nearly 15 years.

Inclusionary zoning is another tool that requires developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing.

Donovan did ask ULI participants to explore public-private partnerships as they jointly work on ways to revitalize our urban areas, especially as money and capital start flowing again.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.