HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan speaks at Furman Center conference on transforming America's housing policy

February 13, 2009

Shaun Donovan, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, sketched out the Obama Administration's new approach to housing policy at a speech today at NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy conference, “A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Transforming America’s Housing Policy."

The keynote speaker at the two-day conference, Donovan vowed that one of HUD's top priorities would be to step up the loan modification process so as to stem the rising tide of foreclosures. He also said HUD would set new industry-wide standards for making loans and devote funds to addressing the negative impacts foreclosures have had on families and communities.

"It's a little early for me to be speaking out. No speech writer, no assistant secretary. It's a risk," he said, adding that NYU was the "only place" he'd want to give this talk. A former Furman Center research fellow and a former New York City housing commissioner who relied on Furman Center research, he noted that Ingrid Gould Ellen, the Furman Center's co-director, served as the head of the housing policy group on the Obama transition team.

NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy hosted the two-day conference, February 12 and 13, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. This invitation-only conference featured addresses by members of the Obama Administration, a breakfast roundtable, and a series of panel discussions. Each of these sessions was designed to generate candid conversations about the challenges and opportunities of the current crisis, and to help result in concrete strategies for moving forward.

The conference will provide President Obama, Congress, and the president's appointees in housing and urban policy with specific recommendations for how to restructure the mortgage finance system, bring new models for first-time homeownership to scale, link affordable rental housing with economic opportunities for families, and forge more effective connections between housing programs and transportation, environment, and education policy.