HUD to CNU: What do you you do when you get what you asked for?

Katherine Gregor's picture

HUD officials made it clear at CNU 18 in Atlanta that ideas emerging from the Congress for New Urbanism have profoundly shaped federal policy, as it's now shifting under the Obama Administration.

At his Friday morning plenary address, U.S. HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan said: "What has made CNU unique is that it has been one of the voices of the past few decades to reengage architects and planners in community development in a way that is about preserving communities. I believe the time has come to restore federal leadership that does the same -- that nurtures and encourages the innovations you’ve pioneered and takes them to scale."

"Community after community is ready to embrace the kinds of sustainable practices CNU has been preaching for 20 years," said Donovan. "I believe the real size of HUD’s sustainability budget is nearly $44 billion--the size of HUD’s overall budget." Donovan previously served as HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing, in the Clinton Administration. He then served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), where he led the New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 affordable homes.

"Using the LEED-ND green neighborhood rating system CNU developed in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council and Green Building Council, it’s time that federal dollars stopped encouraging sprawl and started lowering the barriers to the kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want," he continued. "And with $3.25 billion at stake in these competitions, that’s exactly what they will start to do."

At a later CNU18 plenary session on "Advancing Federal Policy and the Sustainable Communities Partnership," the panel included Senior Advisor Salin Geevarghese, from the office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD. (He replaced the swamped-in-D.C. Shelley Poticha). Noting that it was one of CNU's strengths, he asked for members' assistance and expertise in crafting "language for public policy." His office's work, said Geevarghese, is a "huge opportunity" for CNU to continue working directly with policy makers at the highest levels. He emphasized that CNU and his office now have a "shared obligation to deliver" on the CNU promise - that walkable mixed-use communities will take the nation in the right direction. His sobering, thought-provoking question to CNU now:

"What do you you do when you get what you asked for?"


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