Urban Planning

Two NYU Wagner Professors to Explore Disaster Resiliency and Critical Infrastructures under NSF Grant

Two NYU Wagner Professors to Explore Disaster Resiliency and Critical Infrastructures under NSF Grant

A team of researchers that includes NYU Wagner professors Rae Zimmerman and Zhan Guo as well as experts from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for a project on disaster resiliency planning and design.

The multi-discipline project, “A Meta-Network System Framework for Resilient Analysis and Design of Modern Interdependent Critical Infrastructures," will create a framework to serve as the basis of future computing for a multi-infrastructure modeling, design, and simulation platform. The team will be led by Quanyan Zhu of NYU Polytechnic.

The grant is a Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Processes and Systems (RIPS) award, and one of a group of 10 new NSF-funded projects on disaster vulnerability, risk, and resiliency. These projects will be carried out over the next three years by more than 50 researchers from 16 institutions.

“RIPS researchers will explore the interactions between natural gas and electricity systems, power and communication networks, healthcare and cyber infrastructure and a variety of other combinations,” reads the NSF announcement. “Importantly, new understanding and models of resilience from these projects will encompass community participation, societal services, human activity and land-use. The researchers will also investigate questions related to vulnerability, risk and resilience in the face of various hazards as well as the everyday degradation that infrastructures face.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Taps Former Wagner Adjunct for Senior Post

U.S. Health and Human Services Taps Former Wagner Adjunct for Senior Post

NYU Wagner has a high-caliber group of adjunct professors, including many seasoned practitioners who work on critical public problems in and across a variety of fields and sectors.

Now, David A. Hansell, who was a Wagner adjunct assistant professor from 2000 to 2006, has been named to a senior post at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

His new title, which was effective on June 29, 2009, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, according to an announcement by New York State.

In his most recent role, Hansell is the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and has a breadth of knowledge in the development and delivery of social service policy and programs, including TANF, child support, LIHEAP, food stamps, and services for victims of domestic violence, persons with HIV/AIDS, home care clients, and adults in need of protection.

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner of the NYS OTDA, Hansell was Chief of Staff of the New York City Human Resources Administration, where he assisted in the management of all of the city's public assistance programs. Before joining HRA, Hansell served in a number of positions at Gay Men's Health Crisis, including Director of Legal Services and Deputy Director for Government and Public Affairs. From 1997-2001, he was the Associate Commissioner for HIV Services at the New York City Department of Health, and subsequently served as Associate Commissioner for Planning and Program Implementation.

U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Talks Housing Reform

U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Talks Housing Reform

On Tuesday, April 22, NYU Wagner and the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to discuss developments in housing finance reform. The event centered on the recently proposed bill by Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to dissolve the Government Sponsored Enterprises (“GSE”) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, NYU Wagner’s Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Director of the Furman Center for Housing and Real Estate Policy, and  long-time friend of Secretary Donovan’s, opened the event. Pamela Hughes Patenaude, Director of Housing Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, introduced the Secretary.

Secretary Donovan pointed out that housing has the unique ability to bring people together, which was in plain sight at NYU Wagner on that day, as housing advocates, financiers, developers, public officials, students, faculty, and relators gathered for the event. The Secretary added that it would be difficult to have more appropriate co-hosts for the discussion about a bipartisan bill, with two organizations that support the discourse of diverse viewpoints on housing issues.

The Secretary explained that the flood of alt-A and subprime mortgages on the housing market, coupled with the securitization of these non-investment grade mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, led to the destruction of the housing market in 2008 –from which the country is still recovering. The Johnson-Crapo proposal received high regard from the Secretary for its bipartisan nature, along with its comprehensive approach towards providing stability to the volatile housing market that has persisted over the past half-decade.

The bill requires greater private sector accountability and prohibits predatory lending practices. Financial corporations will also be required to offer financial access to underserved markets and provide affordable housing funding to local partners in the form of a trust. Of this trust fund, the Secretary mentioned, $400 million could go towards affordable housing in New York City alone. The main feature of the bill, however, involves dissolving the two main GSEs while encouraging private loan securitization with explicit government insurance.

Following the Secretary’s presentation, Richard Smith, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Realogy Holdings Corp, moderated a conversation. When Mr. Smith asked the Secretary about the deficiencies of the bill, Donovan responded that while it is commendable that this new legislation is requiring private sector involvement in the secondary market, it is difficult to predict how financial institutions will react to this new structure of the financial system. Many predict this will result in a significant increase in mortgages, preventing many families from getting a loan. But he clearly stated that the legislation was a step in the right direction by both sides of the aisle to reform an industry that is so crucial to the lives of millions of Americans. 

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