With the U.S. presidential election somewhat in the rearview — despite the incumbent’s refusal to concede — President-Elect Joe Biden will have an opportunity to re-make key government agencies from the top-down, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
New appointees at HUD — as well as Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — may mean “a new level of stringency for how fair housing and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act laws are enforced, as well as new policies for promoting homeownership and affordability in underserved communities,” Ruben Gonzalez, the chief economist at Keller Williams, told Inman.
A report from Vox connected former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to the job. Lance Bottoms was at one time considered a vice-presidential candidate for Biden and rose to more national prominence this summer as Atlanta was the epicenter of protests against racism and police brutality. The report also named Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, a former chief of police for the Tampa Police Department, as a good fit for the job.
Data For Progress, a progressive think tank put out a “progressive cabinet report,” which named a number of possibilities for the position and what the appointee’s goals should be.
“Under a progressive administration, the department should be committed to ending the national housing crisis via increased funding for affordable housing and via zoning reform,” the report reads.
The first name in the report was Diane Yentel, the president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. She worked at HUD under the Obama and Biden administration and has worked with both Oxfam America and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.
“Yentel is an advocate of zoning reform, increased investment in affordable housing, increased funding for McKinney-Vento grants to end homelessness, the ability of formerly incarcerated people to receive public housing, and a national right to counsel for tenants facing eviction,” the report reads.
“Yentel has experience in both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and in civil society where she helps formulate housing policy,” the report continues. “As such, she would be a non-controversial, highly-qualified choice for the position.”
The report also names Congressman Chuy García, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Maria Foscarinis, a professor and anti-homelessness advocacy leader.
Politico also put out a massive report on the names being considered for various cabinet positions and named Alvin Brown, the former mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, at the top of the list. The political report also names Lance Bottoms and Yentel, as well as Congresswoman Karen Bass and Maurice Jones, who served as HUD deputy secretary in the Obama administration.
Bass, like Lance Bottoms, was at one time on the Biden administration’s shortlist for a potential vice president, before he ultimately chose California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Of the many names being floated, most of them have been women, which is a rarity for HUD. A woman has not led the agency since Patricia Harris, more than four decades ago.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also been speculated as a potential pick for a cabinet position — as he previously served as HUD Secretary under Bill Clinton — but he has since publicly said he doesn’t have interest in any positions within the Biden administration at this time, according to a number of media reports.