HUD Wants $150M For “Geography of Opportunity”

HUD Secy. Shaun Donovan announced today at the National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2009 conference that his department has requested $150 million for the Sustainable Communities Initiative to create a “geography of opportunity” for residents.

The term, “geography of opportunity,” echoes the 2005 book of the same name, edited by Xavier de Souza Briggs, the MIT professor or urban planning and urban studies who is now the Associate Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Justin Massa, Rooflines blogger, Shelterforce contributor, and executive director of, is live blogging from the conference:

They will be working with DOT to lower transportation costs and to expand housing opportunities for all families. [Donovan] also notes that this supports their committment to fair housing by giving all families equal housing choice.

You can read Massa’s critique of the Sustainable Communities Initiative in the new edition of Shelterforce. Massa stated on his blog that he was encouraged that HUD and DOT are beginning to address some of the problems identified in his piece in areas like regional equity.

View Donovan’s Q & A here:

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Q&A from justin massa on Vimeo.

Donovan also seems to have mapped out a fairly aggressive fair housing enforcement initiative:

Noting that the need for housing counseling has never been greater, Donovan says he is “thrilled” that NFHA is launching an ad campaign to address the fair housing elements of mortgage foreclosure scams. He notes that he will renew HUD’s committment to fair housing enforcement, and in particular fair lending enforcement. Donovan says that they are requesting $38m for fair lending enforcement (a $37m increase in funding).

In the Spring 2009 issue of Shelterforce, now available online at, Nandinee K. Kutty, an author and economist who works in housing and urban policy warns about complacency when it comes to fair lending enforcement after such initiatives as the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan and Making Home Affordable. Concerns that housing discrimination will continue to plague the market, as will the myth that the housing crisis resulted from extending homeownership and home mortgage credit to historically underserved groups,could begin to be addressed with Donovan’s comments today.

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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