President-elect Barack Obama has named some key appointments to White House staff and agency transition review teams with connections to housing. On November 15, Obama named Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and transition co-chair, as White House Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison. She is president and CEO of The Habitat Company, a private multifamily developer and property management company based in Chicago. The firm’s portfolio that includes a number of affordable multifamily apartment properties.

On November 14, Obama named three individuals to the Obama-Biden Transition’s Agency Review Team for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Bruce Katz; Roberta Achtenberg; and Xavier de Souza Briggs. Katz is a vice president of the Brookings Institution and Director of its Metropolitan Policy Program. He served as Chief of Staff to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros during 1993-96, and previously was staff director of the U.S. Senate housing subcommittee.

Achtenberg is an economic and workforce development consultant and served during 1998-2004 in senior policy-making roles with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development. She previously served in the Clinton Administration, first as HUD Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and later as Senior Advisor to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Briggs is an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. A former HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary, his expertise includes affordable housing, economic development and inequality, environmental sustainability, and civic engagement and collaboration. According to the Obama-Biden Transition, the Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies, and commissions of the U.S. government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration. The Teams will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.  read more…