Friday, February 20, 2015
Thursday, July 10, 2014
By Matthew Schuerman : Editor, WNYC
Many homeowners are still waiting for much-needed Sandy aid, but federal inspectors say New York and New Jersey have failed to stop duplicate payouts to others.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Monday that it filed discrimination charges against landlords in the Bronx for trying to evict tenants for keeping a service dog.
Friday, November 15, 2013
From an eight-mile protective barrier to specially-designed reefs, firms are competing to improve regional defenses against future storms.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
One year ago this week, Sandy devastated the Eastern Seaboard, leaving at least 117 dead, thousands homeless and an estimated $65 billion in damage. President Barack Obama appointed Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to lead the federal response to Sandy. Secretary Donovan examines Sandy's impact, and discusses the state of the recovery effort one year later.
Monday, October 28, 2013
By Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC News
Some homeowners in the neighborhoods hardest hit by Sandy are ignoring federal guidelines to prepare for the effects of climate change when they rebuild.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones; Fred Freiberg, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Justice Center; and Betsy Julian, former Housing and Urban Development executive, discuss why the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which was supposed to help integrate cities, has gone largely unenforced, and what HUD should do to integrate cities. Nikole Hannah-Jones has been reporting on the topic for ProPublica, and you can read her articles here, and she's the author of a Kindle single called Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
New York Times Social Q’s columnist Philip Galanes gives advice on how to survive the holidays—from regifting to navigating boozy office parties. Susannah Cahalan describes her month of madness, caused by a mysterious illness that affected her brain. Colin Bailey, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Frick Collection, talks about the exhibition Mantegna to Matisse. Plus we’ll look at why the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act, which was supposed to help integrate cities, has gone largely unenforced.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
By Mark Simpson
Planners designing around Central Florida’s SunRail future commuter line are working to bring walkable communities around rail stops, said Shaun Donovan, secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
They are making sure zoning changes around the stations will be able to increase nearby construction, which creates jobs, but also brings housing and jobs within a walkable distance, he said in an interview with WMFE just before the Florida Housing Coalition’s annual conference.
“Frankly, families are getting more and more fed up,” Donovan said. “I don’t want to spent two hours commuting...the average family now spends fifty cents of every dollar they earn just on housing and transportation...this can lower the cost of jobs.”
SunRail is expected to cost $1.2 billion to construct. It will begin operations in 2014.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The U.S. Housing Secretary praised the federal-state settlement endorsed by the state’s Attorney General on Friday, saying help is on the way for homeowners facing foreclosure.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
By Ilya Marritz
The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan on Tuesday accused one of the nation’s largest privately held mortgage companies of a decade of fraudulent lending — costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars and forcing thousands of Americans to lose their homes.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
(Matt Dellinger – Transportation Nation) Earlier this month, Shelley Poticha, the senior adviser at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in charge of the office of Sustainable Communities, flew into Madison, Wisconsin, to visit the annual gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism. It was after dinner on a Thursday night, and a small group of community leaders from across the country gathered in a vacant ballroom to hear the latest on livability from Poticha, the former president of Reconnecting America, an organization that promotes transit-oriented development, and a former executive director of the CNU (she has the group’s charter on her office wall, she told the group).
Many of the planners and architects and local officials had been on the receiving end of her initiative’s Sustainable Communities planning grants, some $150 million of which were awarded last October. The grants—and indeed Poticha’s office in general—seek to encourage cooperation and coordination at the local level among federal agencies, primarily the U.S. Departments of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture. As Lynn Richards, a representative from the EPA, described it that night, “When you're putting in a road, you're doing your storm water management at the same time, then you can facilitate the clean-up of a brownfield site next to your transportation hub and have affordable housing on top of that.”
To those who’d come to meet Poticha, the benefits of this type of coordination were obvious, and they were grateful for it. For over an hour, grant recipients took turns describing how far this federal collaboration (and largess) would carry their communities—urban and rural, in every state in the country—toward greater cohesion and sustainability.
But the Obama Administration’s livability initiative had been politicized, at a time when the opposition party was looking to cut government programs. “Our office was lined out of the budget for 2011 and we were out for months,” Poticha told the group. “I think it's only because people in communities called up their representatives that we are still here.” She was happy to report that her office was already getting ready for the next round of grants, which would be $100 million in 2012. “We survived the continuing resolution, we didn't get as much money as the first year, but we're still in business.... We finished 2011, we're now working forward on 2012 and actually I got called to a meeting for 2013,” she said, suggesting perhaps that the White House was internally confident in its agenda and prospects for a second term.
Especially with less money to distribute, Poticha expects the next round of grants to be even more oversubscribed. “It's enormously beneficial to a very non-partisan program like this, that there were many, many, many more applications than we could fund. There were many excellent applications that we could fund and we're hoping the people who did excellent applications come back... because that shows the legislative branch that there are people in their communities who want to do this stuff. And we should be supporting them because it's ultimately about being able to make more cogent decisions, financially prudent decisions, using resources more efficiently.”
Both Poticha and Richards used the familiar hard-to-turn-an-oceanliner metaphor in describing their struggle to harmonize these mammoth federal departments and their national and local offices to collaborate in basic ways. “Part of what our job is to do is to mediate there a little bit. But it's also just going to be a bitch. It's going to be really hard because we're going to have to change the rules by which these monies are sent out,” Poticha said. “Behind the scenes part of what we're doing is trying to build a capacity of these federal folks who have never been asked to be problem solvers, who have never really been taught and educated and been able to really engage in many of these issues, to be your real partners in communities. And that's a huge part of the kind of legacy that we're trying to build here so that when I'm gone it's continuing to live and it's part of the DNA, so to speak.”
Getting federal agencies to spend their dwindling budgets in harmonious ways seems to many conservatives like a wise idea. And at least one conservative Republican Governor, Rick Snyder of Michigan, has embraced the Obama Administration’s livability efforts. Many consider the initiative a non-partisan effort to make government work better.
But some prominent conservatives detect sinister and socialistic intentions. The day after Poticha appeared at the CNU, Oregon Representative (and bike champion) Earl Blumenauer gave a talk. “People in this room know that good planning and design saves money and solves problems. Bad planning, or no planning, and stupid design ends up costing money.” But there were competing worldviews that were clashing in state capitals such as Madison and in Washington, DC.
Confident that most in the room shared his perspective, he went on, tongue in cheek: “Over the course of my checkered career, we’ve been developing an agenda we call ‘livable communities’ so as not to intimidate anybody.” Despite some opinions to the contrary, he said, this plan was “not social engineering so that people do things they don’t like, forcing them onto bikes at gunpoint, squeezing them into those friendly, walkable communities, herding them into streetcars.” Rather, he said, it was about choices. “To make the government, especially the federal government, a better partner, and taking simple, common sense steps to revitalize, strengthen, and make sustainable the places where we raise our families.”
Yet some people are still afraid of being forced onto streetcars. George Will called Ray Lahood the “Secretary of Behavior Modification.” And more recently, a tea party group in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., took to actively fighting livability-funded planning efforts. In March, the Jefferson Area Tea Party held a forum called “The Deceptive Agenda of Sustainability in Local Government,” where they gave a seminar about alleged United Nations-led policies “openly dedicated to global government control over every aspect of our lives including housing, energy, water, food production, transportation, population control, education, social welfare...all in the name of sustainability.” The Jefferson Area Tea Party is not at all happy that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission got almost a million dollars from Poticha’s initiative.
In case anyone’s interested, Thomas Jefferson himself (quite the independence-minded tea partier his day), was a fan of government-assisted urban planning. In the late 1700s, Jefferson collected city plan drawings from European cities such as Amsterdam, Strasburg, Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, and Milan, and brought them here to the land of the free to give to Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the planner of the new nation’s capital. He also made a shameless attempt to infest these new streets with European building types. “While in Europe,” he wrote to George Washington in 1781, “I selected about a dozen or two of the handsomest fronts of private buildings, of which I have the plates. Perhaps it might decide the taste of the new town, were these to be engraved here, and distributed gratis among the inhabitants of Georgetown. The expense would be trifling.”)
Speaking of trifling expenses, the $150 million Poticia’s office gave out last year would be barely enough to build a new highway interchange.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) -- Four days before election day, Democratic Candidate for NY Governor Andrew Cuomo released a green agenda. It's slighter than some of his other agenda books -- about half the size of his urban agenda -- but it does contain both an endorsement of construction of "sustainable communities" -- a big agenda item of the Obama administration, and a call for "improved public transportation" as part of an environmental agenda. Here's what he has to say about public transportation (in its entirety.)
We must Encourage Alternative Vehicles and Public Transportation. Technology has made it possible for cleaner, greener modes have transportation. From high speed rail to other alternative forms of transportation that reduces pollutants, the State should encourage the research, development and manufacturing of alternative modes of transportation. Such investment is a positive step for the environment and economic development. Moreover, the State must continue to invest and improve public transportation in order to improve the environment.
He does not address the transit financing issue that came up at the press conference releasing his urban agenda.
There's also a section on sustainable communities, which hews closely in philosophy to the Ray LaHood-Shaun Donovan-Lisa Jackson (DOT-HUD-EPA) effort.
You can read that part, after the jump.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The enemies of pork barrel spending are taking aim at the latest transportation funding bill. That’s despite the fact that earmarks in the bill are lower than ever.
Spending watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste says the Fiscal 2011 appropriations bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development is carrying 459 pet projects as it makes its way to the House floor later this summer.
Those earmarks, including $500,000 for a solar-powered Berkeley, Calif., ferry service championed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation, May 4) Since leaving his office as Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion has been Obama's Urban Czar, logging lots of frequent flyer miles but not scoring much ink. (Except maybe, for this profile on WNYC News last December.)
But while Carrion has been busy promoting dense development, sustainable transit, and urban gardens, to New Yorkers, well, if he isn't doing it here, he isn't doing it all. Behind the scenes, high-profile New Yorkers, knowing I've been covering Carrion, have asked, not entirely nicely, "what's he doing?" (It sounds like, "what's he doing?")
In recent appearances in New York, Carrion has been not ruling out running for Mayor ever more strenuously.
Now Carrion has a new job, the New York-New Jersey regional director of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. It's arguably somewhat less high-profile than Bronx Borough President, and does not come with an elected base, but it does allow Carrion to interact with all kinds of New York elected officials, doing things like bringing affordable housing to their districts, always a good chit to call in later.
His new boss is his old friend Shaun Donovan, Mayor Bloomberg's former Housing Director. The two share genuine affection, and the job gives Carrion a chance to answer critics who ask: what has he accomplished? Accomplished.?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Found your dream home out in the suburbs at a fantastic price? Well, it may not be as cheap as you think. According to a new study released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, when you factor in the costs of transportation, only 1/3 of America's neighborhoods are actually considered affordable. (You can look up your own neighborhood in the just-released Housing + Transportation Affordability Index.)