Affordable housing advocates, analysts and policymakers were abuzz Monday with speculation about whom Mayor Michael Bloomberg would select to replace Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan, who is leaving for a new post in the Obama administration.

According to Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council and Donovans predecessor at HPD, the housing plan faces a perfect storm in which all three underpinnings of affordable housing development government spending, private sector investment and bank lending are all pulling back because of the economic crisis. “The challenge really is how to keep your housing program growing how to potentially rethink some aspects of it,” Perine says. That means using government money strategically, and in a way to keep alive the vibrant and valuable affordable housing industry that New York has developed over the past 30 years. It also means bracing for criticism in how scarce dollars are allocated. “In troubled economic times, government money comes under greater scrutiny,” Perine adds. “I mean, the mayors closing firehouses. Hes making very tough choices.”

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