Adolfo Carrion, Jr., the former White House czar on urban affairs, talked about the local emphasis of the administration’s urban development plans in a conversation with Columbia University graduate students today.
He stressed the impact that urban planning has on America’s competitiveness, linking low-income housing placement and low education standards to the nation’s global economic standing.
“We cannot allow significant portions of the American population to lag, to not be educated, to not have good physical wellness…mental wellness. We cannot allow marginalization,” he said.
Carrion is the new regional head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for New York and New Jersey. While taking care not to reveal any specific details, he said that the administration is “in discussions” on a strategy to help struggling cities.
“It will include the federal agencies, HUD being probably in the lead. The notion of restoring the ‘UD’ in HUD is driving this that its not just about housing unit generation but about urban development and urban growth.”
“It will include philanthropy, it will include the private sector, and it’s driven by some foundational thinking around not every place needing to grow, or grow back to where it was, because it’s play in the marketplace has changed,” Carrion said.
When pressed for a date of the announcement, he said “its hard to say, I don’t want to tie myself down to a timeframe because my hope is sooner rather than later.”
Carrion stressed the importance of urban development plans that come from the bottom-up, beginning in the community and focusing on local needs in order to service the problems of the area, whether they be health care, education, housing or transportation.
“It cannot be defended what happened in the middle of the last century where places, municipalities, cities, counties placed public housing or low income housing in places far away from transportation and far away from work and far away from job opportunities. It is nonsensical.”
“We cannot allow significant portions of the American populations to lag, to not be educated, to no have good physical wellness, mental wellness.”
“The fact of the matter is that having lost generations of undereducated, sick people is not good for America and for the world, and its not good for any country in the world.”
The former Bronx Borough President was clear to mention his happiness with his new role in HUD as regional director, after leaving his position as urban planning csar in May. During the talk, Carrion made references to his $2 million war chest that remains from his abandoned run for city comptroller in 2009 and did not rule out a future run for political office in his home state.
“I’m happy to be home in New York and to be at HUD because now we can implement these policies at a local level and it allows me to come back home and play in my sandbox. I love this city- I missed it while I was away. Washington is a very interesting town but its not New York. “