Donovan Touts Administration’s Housing Policies, Though Acknowledges “Daunting Set of Challenges”

WASHINGTON — Addressing a crowd of low income housing advocates, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan promoted the Obama administration’s housing policy here, but acknowledged that while “there’s great opportunity in crisis, there’s also crisis in crisis.”

Donovan’s remarks were delivered to several hundred housing advocates here as part of the four-day National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2009 Annual Housing Policy Conference. He specifically addressed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the roughly $13.6 billion for projects and programs administered by HUD, with nearly three quarters of that funding going to support low- and extremely low-income renters.

“We have a woefully underfunded public housing system in this country,” Donovan said, “and we have the ability to invest in new strategies.”

Donovan also pointed to the NLIHC report Out of Reach 2009: Persistent Problems, New Challenges for Renters that examines housing conditions prior to the current economic crisis, and how this crisis has only worsened existing difficulties facing low income households, including necessary levels of earning power to ensure finding an affordable rental unit, and if a full-time job, at prevailing wage levels, will allow a prospective rental to locate housing.

“We have a real, daunting set of challenges ahead of us,” Donovan said, acknowledging that, despite funding for current goals, HUD “will be facing difficult times in the years to come.

“My department has lost the trust of Congress and the American people with helping families with their most urgent needs. We must admit where we are wrong and show a willingness to change — we need advocates of the heart and of the mind.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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