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Even with superb leadership, the federal government’s home-building programs are unworkable in a country as vast and varied as the United States. Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, “has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on stalled or abandoned projects and routinely failed to crack down on derelict developers or the local housing agencies that funded them.” Shaun Donovan, the current HUD secretary, is impressively intelligent and inspiringly dedicated; he won widespread praise for his work as housing commissioner in complex, chaotic New York City. Yet not even Donovan can fix the current problem, because it’s impossible for federal officials to perfectly oversee any nationwide building program.


Glaeser, Edward L. "Federal Home-Building Programs Guarantee Waste." Boston Globe, May 19, 2011.