Make us your home page
Instagram

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan emphasizes back-to-basics approach

Shaun Donovan, the country's new secretary of housing and urban development, is a Harvard University-trained architect who plied the affordable housing trade as an undersecretary in the Clinton administration and as head of New York City's subsidized housing endeavors.

The 43-year-old HUD secretary spoke with St. Petersburg Times reporter James Thorner on Thursday, hot off of President Obama's Wednesday introduction of a new $75 billion foreclosure prevention plan. Here are excerpts of the conversation:

In light of the foreclosure crisis, what if any changes would you propose to the Community Reinvestment Act to avoid unsound lending? (The act is a 1977 law that encourages lenders to make loans to lower income residents of the inner cities.)

I think it's one of the ingredients the president made clear in his speech. We need to fundamentally rethink the way we regulate the system. Clearly there was a failure to provide clear, transparent information to consumers. I think CRA is an example of that. You have had large changes in the mortgage market since the law was introduced and the regulatory system has not kept up. But the focus right now is to get out of the current crisis.

You were successful in limiting foreclosures to only a handful when you worked in New York. How applicable is that experience to limiting foreclosures in Florida and the nation?

I think it's very applicable. You need a back-to-basics approach, fundamental common sense values. We got ourselves into a period when we forgot those values, and everyone thought there was a quick buck to be made. A mortgage that's no more than 31 percent of one's income is a widely accepted standard. It worked in New York, and it will work in the new plan.

Florida was once thought of as a low cost state. Now it has an affordable housing problem. How can the federal government help?

Clearly we've got to stabilize the foreclosure crisis there. In Tampa-St. Petersburg alone, 7.7 percent of all loans are either 90 days delinquent or in foreclosure, far higher than the national rate of 5.2 percent. I think the recovery bill has a lot to offer. There's $2 billion in neighborhood stabilization funding. One thing we forget is that more than a third of the victims of foreclosure are renters. There's $1.5 billion in emergency shelter grants to help the most vulnerable victims of foreclosure.

If this housing and mortgage bailout fails, what other weapons are at your disposal?

I think one thing the president made clear is that this is no longer just a mortgage crisis. Our economic crisis is about jobs and the stability of the whole financial system. The three legs of the stool are the housing plan, the recovery bill signed on Tuesday, as well as the financial stability plan Treasury Secretary (Timothy) Geithner announced last week. All have to work together to be successful.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan emphasizes back-to-basics approach 02/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 12:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Did Hurricane Irma speed the end of Florida orange juice?

    Agriculture

    Hurricane Irma plundered Florida's orange belt, leaving a trail of uprooted trees, downed fruit and flooded groves worse than anything growers say they have seen in more than 20 years.

    A large number of oranges lie on the ground at the Story Grove orange grove in the wake of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales. [Photo by Brian Blanco | Getty Images]
  2. St. Petersburg's newest hotel opens with craft beers, cocktails and Cozy Corners

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last spring, Ryan Tarrant applied for a job with the new Hyatt Place nearing completion in downtown St. Petersburg. Among the questions an interviewer asked:

    What does this hotel need to succeed?

    Hybar, a bar area with outdoor seating  that will feature craft drinks and Sunday brunch starting Oct. 1, is ready to open at the new Hyatt Place hotel at  25 2nd St. N in downtown St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Culver's crosses into Brandon near Selmon Expressway

    Business

    BRANDON — Like many children, Theresa Hutchins recalls pleading with her parents to take her for ice cream.

    Theresa Hutchins and her fianc? Mike Carelli opened the Tampa Bay area’s newest Culver’s August 28 in Brandon at 2470 S Falkenburg Road.
  4. Back to life: Event helps Riverview revert to peaceful pace after Irma

    Human Interest

    RIVERVIEW — Robin and Ray Castell say establishing residency in the Winthrop Village was one of the best decisions of their lifetime.

    hillsbrandon092217: Meredith Tucker of Riverview, the mother of two children and another one soon on the way, browses the racks of Dot Dot Smile children?€™s clothing as company merchandiser Kelcie Schranck, standing behind her in the black shirt, looks on during the first-of-its-kind Recruiting the Community event on Sept. 17 at the Barn at Winthrop in Riverview. Photo by Joyce McKenzie.
  5. SEC says hackers may have profited from stolen info

    Business

    The Securities and Exchange Commission says its corporate filing system was hacked last year and the intruders may have used the nonpublic information they obtained to profit illegally.

    In this file photo, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman nominee Jay Clayton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. The SEC says a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. [AP file photo]