Shaun L.S. Donovan, previously commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 22, 2009, as the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Donovan, 43, holds master's degrees in both public administration and architecture from Harvard University and once practiced as an architect in New York and Italy. He has spent much of his career working in the affordable housing sector and lending industry.
During the confirmation hearing on Donovan's appointment as HUD secretary-designate, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, recommended Donovan for the position. "Mr. Donovan is the most experienced nominee for HUD secretary that this committee has considered in my long experience," Sen. Dodd told the committee. Dodd also spoke of Donovan's leadership and vision, citing his early recognition in 2004 of the looming "flood of foreclosures."
On Jan. 13, 2009, Donovan addressed the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, summarizing his approach to reforming and strengthening HUD, restoring the department to its position as a research institution, and working with federal agencies and financial institutions to shore up the economy by solving the housing crisis. In his address, Donovan pledged to prioritize management reform of HUD, including establishing goals and metrics to measure the department's successes and failures. He shared his vision for a HUD focused on creating a market for energy-efficient homes and expanding fair housing efforts; dedicated to helping develop livable, walkable, sustainable, and transit-oriented communities; and committed to not only stepping up production of workforce and mixed-income housing but also to preserving existing stock of affordable housing.
After his appointment in 2004 as commissioner of New York City's HPD, Donovan implemented a departmentwide strategic planning process that resulted in several policy innovations, housing programs, and an effective system for measuring results. He oversaw the nation's largest housing plan—the HPD's $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan—which in 2008 made significant progress toward its goal of building and preserving 165,000 affordable housing units for 500,000 New Yorkers.
Prior to leading the HPD, Donovan worked as managing director of Prudential Mortgage Capital Co.'s FHA lending and affordable housing investments. He also previously was a visiting scholar at New York University and consulted for the Millennial Housing Commission. He served as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing at HUD until March 2001, where he managed housing subsidy programs totaling more than $9 billion and a multifamily housing portfolio of more than two million housing units. During the 2000 presidential transition, Donovan also served as acting FHA commissioner. Donovan's first job after graduate school was with the nonprofit lender and multifamily housing developer Community Preservation Corp.