OPINION: HUD choice in best interest of Latinos

January 09, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama announced his pick for secretary of Housing and Urban Development last month in a very low-key way — via e-mail at 6 a.m. Although Obama later mentioned his choice of Shaun Donovan for HUD in his radio address, it was a quiet rollout. Other Cabinet appointees have been presented at televised news conferences.
     I wonder whether Obama was trying to deflect criticism from advocacy groups that wanted the position to go to a Latino. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had submitted a "wish list" of potential nominees. For HUD, it suggested Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión or Saul Ramirez, a former HUD deputy secretary.
     But there are instances where the needs of Latinos and the agendas of our lobbying groups diverge — and this is one of them. With the Hispanic community hit hard by the mortgage and foreclosure crisis, Donovan is the best candidate for HUD. He is a Harvard-educated architect whose résumé includes the private and non-profit sectors. He's overseeing New York City's $7.5 billion plan for affordable housing, the largest in the nation.