Urban Planning

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. 

Uncommon Street Fest Brings Together New Thinking on Cities

Uncommon Street Fest Brings Together New Thinking on Cities

NYU Wagner's Rogan Kersh shines at Festival of Ideas for the New City. [Photo by Dexter Miranda.]

Instead of face painting and kielbasa, there were brightly colored worm tunnels, and a crocheted room. Italian ices and ferris wheels -- the stuff of traditional street fares everywhere -- were replaced by fresh thinking about environmental sustainability, neighborhood heterogeneity, and cutting-edge networking.

The streets and suites all around NYU Wagner's headquarters in the historic Puck Building were awash in new ideas on urban living May 4 to May 8 at the first-ever Festival of Ideas for the New City. Workshops and discussions, dealing with everything from art and housing to urban planning and public policy, took center stage at multiple locations throughout downtown.

The first-ever brainstorm of its kind, the Festival of Ideas was organized by the New Museum, with assistance provided by NYU Wagner and the Cooper Union, and other major partners.

Participants in the festival events included small businesses, local non-profits, and a raft of arts organizations.

The talks tapped the knowledge of thinkers from a variety of arenas. Artists, urban planners, architects and even musicians like David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) - who opened an event on bicycle transportation called "The Sustainable City" -- populated and energized the discussions.

The events were all aimed at coming up with ways of making city life more beautiful, durable, collective, connective, and innovative.

Two of the discussions were hosted at Wagner's headquarters at Lafayette and Houston streets, with Wagner also dispatching expert participants to other happenings, such as Professor and Associate Dean Rogan Kersh. Wagner's Josh Mandell attended the Downtown Policy Issues World Café, co-hosted at the Puck by NYU Wagner and IDEO, the design firm; he wrote up the lively discussion about new ways to use shared space, solar panels, and even white paint. Thirteen.org was also there, picking up intelligence.

Meanwhile, Wagner's Professor Mitchell Moss took part in a Saturday evening conversation on the prospects for a thriving downtown cultural scene, held at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater.

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