Former HUD Secretary Donovan Running for NYC Mayor, Outraises Rivals

Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan is running to be the next mayor of New York City in the November 2021 election, and has a sizable head start in fundraising on his competition by outraising the entire field of 11 other candidates combined.

Donovan, who served in the Barack Obama Administration first as HUD Secretary and then as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), filed paperwork to run for the city’s top leadership position early this year. According to the latest campaign finance filing period from January 12 through July 11, Donovan raised $662,000 compared to the combined $594,000 in the same period from the other 11 candidates which have also declared, according to local news outlet City & State New York (CSNY).

Compared with other declared candidates including Speaker of the New York City Council Corey Johnson and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, Donovan is going for larger, wealthier donors as opposed to the small-dollar donation focus of his rivals.

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During his time as HUD Secretary, Donovan expressed criticism for the financial standing of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program inside the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), but also advocated for key reforms that would go on to help strengthen it.

“If it were not for the HECM program, FHA would be in positive territory,” Donovan told Congress in a 2013 hearing seeking more authority over the program. “It is very important to carry forward those reforms for HECM.”

Regardless of that criticism, Donovan would go on to tell Congressional leaders that maintenance of the HECM program would help to provide necessary stability for seniors as retirement in the United States is strained.

“There are some who say we should not have a reverse mortgage program,” Donovan said. “We believe the reverse mortgage program can be an important part of helping seniors responsibly use their home equity for health care and other needs. But only if it is responsibly done.”

Donovan was present in the Oval Office when President Obama signed 2013’s Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act into law, alongside sponsor Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), then-FHA Commissioner Carol Galante and NRMLA CEO and former President Peter Bell.

“Both HUD and aging Americans are fortunate the Department has a leadership team consisting of Shaun Donovan, Carol Galante and Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles Coulter with rich experience in housing finance,” Bell said following the signing ceremony in the Oval Office. “They have repeatedly demonstrated keen insight into the evolution of the [HECM] program and an ability to make any necessary changes to strengthen the performance of the insurance fund and also protect borrowers.”

The upcoming primary contest to determine finalists in the race will be the first in the city’s history to utilize ranked choice voting in a mayoral contest, according to CSNY. Read more about the fundraising of the currently-declared candidates.

Donovan is not the only former HUD Secretary with broader political aspirations. Julián Castro, Donovan’s successor during the Obama Administration, unsuccessfully ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination before dropping out to endorse Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). After Warren herself dropped out, Castro endorsed presumptive nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.

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