Donovan headed to HUD

DONOVAN HEADED TO HUD…. The president-elect will announce this morning that he’s nominating Shaun Donovan, New York City’s widely respected housing commissioner, to be the next head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s hard to imagine Barack Obama picking a more qualified person for the job.

Assuming that Mr. Donovan, 42, is confirmed by the Senate to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he would be returning to the agency where he worked in the Clinton administration as acting federal housing commissioner and, earlier, as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing, overseeing subsidies and properties for about two million families.

Mr. Donovan 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. He has even worked as an architect in New York and Italy. […]

“Shaun Donovan has been one of the most effective housing commissioners in New York City’s history,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who had championed Mr. Donovan. “At this time, with the housing crisis raging, he is exactly the kind of person we need as HUD secretary.”

As chief of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Mr. Donovan is in charge of the Bloomberg administration’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan to build or preserve 165,000 units for to low- and moderate-income families, housing up to 500,000 residents, by 2013.

Looking over Donovan’s background, his expertise in housing policy includes the public and private sector, as well as an academic background — he researched the preservation of federally assisted housing at NYU, was a researcher at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, and “was a consultant to the Millennial Housing Commission, set up by Congress to recommend new ways to encourage production of affordable housing nationwide.” He even worked for “a nonprofit lender and developer for affordable properties.”

Newsweek noted that the HUD post is “often occupied by a minority candidate,” and the NYT mentions in passing that Donavan’s nomination may disappoint the Latino community, who had hoped to see a Hispanic official head the cabinet agency.

Those concerns notwithstanding, Donavan, with a progressive and ambitious vision for federal housing policy, is unquestionably perfect for the job.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.