Around 50 people from over 20 organizations met at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offices to discuss plans for the main celebration of World Habitat Day on 5 October 2009.
For the Obama administration, the celebrations provide an opportunity to highlight its urban revitalization strategy for sustainable cities. The previous day, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan introduced a national Choice Neighborhoods initiative, one of the administration’s plans for urban revitalization.
The initiative takes an integrated approach to improving communities by involving public, private and nonprofit partners to transform the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, linking public housing to transport, parks, markets, school reform and early childhood innovation.
Anna Marie Argilagos, HUD’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs underscored the importance that the Department is giving to urban revitalization. She informed of ‘listening tours’, due to start in July, to gather information from several US cities to ensure that their priorities and issues are addressed in the national plans for a sustainable urban future.
Organizations welcomed the celebrations of World Habitat Day in Washington as an excellent opportunity to foster global discussion and raise the profile of shelter and urban issues at the national and international level. They said the day would raise awareness of important aspects of shelter and urban development ranging from affordable housing, urban planning, governance, slum upgrading, and green infrastructure to urban agriculture, sustainable communities, and housing as a human right.
The stimulating World Habitat Day programme will have a mixture of policy, technical and cultural events and is co-hosted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and UN-HABITAT. The hosts have strong support and involvement from a wide range of organizations including Rockefeller, Habitat for Humanity, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Global Housing Foundation, CHF International, American Planners Association, International Housing Coalition, the Urban Institute, USAID, Cities Alliance, the World Bank, the US Department of Agriculture, the Cooperative Housing Foundation, the National Law Centre, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, among others.