Adolfo Carrion, White House Urban Policy Czar, to Speak at UB April 23

Urban planner, former Bronx borough president is an emerging American political leader

Release Date: March 4, 2010

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White House Urban Affairs Policy Director Adolfo Carri&#243n will speak at UB on April 23.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Adolfo Carrión Jr., director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy, a position created by President Barack Obama last year to focus federal investment in cities for the first time in several decades, will present the Graduate Planning Student Association Lecture in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning on April 23 at 1 p.m. in 146 Diefendorf Hall, UB South Campus.

The talk is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception for Carrión.

Carrión is a Democratic politician of Puerto Rican descent with a master's degree in urban planning from Hunter College who served two terms as New York City's Bronx Borough president before being tapped by President Obama to create jobs and better housing and ensure that federal money for urban America is effectively spent.

Kimberley Moore, president of the GPSA, who helped arrange the visit, said, "The fact that Carrión has a graduate degree in planning appealed to us, as does the fact that he worked on a number of initiatives, including a project that led to the building of multiple affordable housing units in the Bronx.

"We are also impressed with the fact that Carrión was selected in 2006 by the Aspen Institute as one of 24 Aspen-Rodel Fellows in Public Leadership, considered among the very best, brightest and most promising of America's emerging political leaders," she said.

Robert Silverman, PhD, associate professor of urban and regional planning, agrees that Carrión was an excellent choice for many reasons, including the fact that there is broad community interest in his work.

Silverman says, "In his current position, Carrión, deals directly with the very issues that Buffalo faces: poverty, urban decline, housing, transportation. These are challenges confronted by many American cities. This initiative is very, very important. It represents the first effort by the federal government in more than 30 years to address urban issues in a comprehensive way."

As Bronx president, Carrión had considerable influence over land-use projects, appointed members of the borough's community boards, monitored city administrative services and conducted strategic planning for the economic development of the borough.

When he was appointed to his new position in March 2009, The New York Times cited his accomplishments in "helping to develop housing for low- and moderate-income families. Borough presidents decide how to spend a small pot of money from the city's capital budget, and Mr. Carrión gave millions of dollars each year to help finance housing units. In a typical contribution, he gave $3 million to the nonprofit Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation to build 300 units that cost a total of $82 million."

He has critics whose principle claim is that Carrión's role in building urban housing has been overstated, and that the 40,000 new units created while he was Bronx president included projects he did not help finance.

Prior to being elected borough president, Carrión was a public school teacher and later served one four-year term on the New York City Council representing the 14th Council District, which includes the West Bronx neighborhoods of University Heights, Morris Heights, Kingsbridge and Fordham.

He also served as the president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and worked as an associate pastor of a Bronx church.

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