Goldsmith Offers Tips for Success in U.S. Housing, Urban Development


Former Indy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith offered some advice to the incoming U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, via his column in Governing. Leaning upon his own experiences, Goldsmith offered the following tips:

  • Measure performance, not activities
  • De-layer the bureaucracy
  • Try a little trust and support public-private partnerships
  • Block grants are better than program grants
  • Recognize that individual choice and market forces drive innovation

Goldsmith adds:

This year, at Harvard Kennedy School, we presented our top Innovations in American Government award to Donovan and his New York City Acquisition Fund, a $230 million partnership that finances the purchase of land and buildings for affordable housing. The Acquisition Fund is supported through a collaboration of the city of New York, the city’s leading financial institutions and 10 national philanthropies. The fund encourages banks to offer credit to smaller developers by insulating their contributions from the highest-risk positions within the fund. By combining innovative private-sector structured finance techniques with the mission-driven commitment of the public sector, the Fund gives small affordable-housing developers faster access to equity and predevelopment capital, achieving remarkable results. The work of local mayors and community development and finance agencies will benefit greatly if "Secretary Donovan" wakes up every day remembering "Housing Commissioner Donovan."

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