Obama names choice for HUD secretary

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President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday said he will nominate Shaun Donovan, New York City’s housing development commissioner, to shepherd the nation through the distressed housing market as secretary of housing and urban development.

“With experience that stretches from the public sector to the private sector to academia, Shaun will bring to this important post fresh thinking, unencumbered by old ideology and outdated ideas,” Mr. Obama said in making the announcement in his weekly radio address.

Mr. Donovan is an architect by training and spent time as a deputy assistant secretary in HUD in the Clinton administration. In New York he oversees the nation’s largest affordable housing plan.

Speaking in New York over the summer, Mr. Donovan described his approach to public housing there, saying part of the challenge is overcoming the image many have of dilapidated structures and instead showing off the new methods of integrating public housing seamlessly into neighborhoods.

“I think there is an opportunity, given the subprime crisis. A mentor of mine that I worked for in my first government job in Washington said, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste,’ ” Mr. Donovan said. “In fact, we have an opportunity, despite the terrible things that are happening in neighborhoods because of the subprime crisis, to really reframe the housing challenges, nationally, as a result of what we’ve seen over the last few years.”

In his radio address Mr. Obama laid out the challenge for HUD: “We can’t keep throwing money at the problem, hoping for a different result. We need to approach the old challenge of affordable housing with new energy, new ideas, and a new, efficient style of leadership.”

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