Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Guest Blogger Lawrence Simons: The Reinvention of HUD

When we get around to discussing the future of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), I believe it is an opportunity to restore the importance of housing to its historic role as being of vital importance to the economic well being of the country. The federal government has limited its role in housing to only helping the low- and moderate-income groups. In essence, it forgot that its housing policy helped to shape our overall economic policy. When I was the Federal Housing Administration Commissioner, I served on the economic policy council with the Secretary of Treasury, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, the Chairman of the Economic Advisors and the Presidents Domestic Policy Advisor. HUD has been relegated to such a limited role that it did not play the lead role in housing during Katrina and that Treasury has now usurped its policy role during the current crises.

This problem will have to be rectified by a top down approach. The incoming HUD Secretary should be a person of major stature, preferably with extensive housing experience.That person should be made part of the economic policy team. I realize that morale is low at HUD now, but strong leadership can turn it around. A strong leader will attract others to fill the key positions if there is the realization that housing once again has been recognized as having an important role in our federal government.

Lawrence B. Simons is the former Federal Housing Administration commissioner, an NHC Board of Trustees member and a Life Trustee of NHC.

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