German Delegation Visit to HUD
Cynthia Campbell, Director of PD&R’s International and Philanthropic Affairs Division.
The International and Philanthropic Affairs Division of the Office of Policy Development and Research hosted a delegation from Germany in November 2021 to discuss the next steps in our long partnership. Under a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in December 2019, representatives from HUD and their counterparts in Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community discuss strategies for integrated policies and principles for urban development and revitalization in the two countries. The partnership is a way to foster fair, equitable, and sustainable housing and communities in the two countries and promote democratic ideals and equal opportunity for all.
One of the key areas of our work involves our partnership with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and our German counterparts, including the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), for an initiative called U.S. and German Cities for Sustainable Urban Development: Dialogues for Change. GIZ is an agency similar to the United States Agency for International Development. Dialogues for Change is a 3-year program that allows U.S. and German cities to exchange insights and strategies on urban planning and urban development. During the program, urban planners share best practices on solving difficult issues within their own cities, allowing participants to see how the two nations approach the same issues.
The first cohort was from 2013 to 2015 and included Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Flint, Michigan; and Memphis, Tennessee in the United States and Bottrop, Leipzig, and Ludwigsburg in Germany. The next cohort, from 2016 to 2018, included Baltimore, Maryland; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States and Bottrop, Karlsruhe, and Leipzig in Germany. The groups focused on peer-to-peer learning, presenting projects, addressing problems, and sharing best practices. The groups met in each city every 6 months during the 3-year period, and the visits included tours of urban renewal projects in each host city. Representatives from the 2016 to 2018 cohort focused on several urban renewal projects within each city. In Baltimore, for example, participants focused on the city’s Green Network Plan, an effort to convert vacant properties into public recreation areas and urban gardens. The German city planners were able to witness the transformation as it was taking place. We had a chance to walk through one of the city’s urban gardens, which included a vegetable plot to help children learn about gardening. The planners shared ideas that could easily be implemented in other cities. The final project paper can be found here.
HUD staff meets German Delegation. Photo credit: Cynthia Campbell
Following the conclusion of the 2016 to 2018 cohort, we took what we thought would be a 1-year break that has turned into a much longer break because of the pandemic. We intend to start the next city-to-city exchange this year. During the German delegation visit, we discussed potential next steps in our approach to the next 3-year cohort.
The delegation also had a chance to see several of the Washington, DC area’s redevelopment projects, including the Navy Yard redevelopment in Washington, DC, and the new Amazon headquarters redevelopment project in Arlington, Virginia. The delegation also met with Todd Richardson, general deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development and Research, and Ben Winter, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development and Research. The German delegation included Oliver Weigel, head of the Urban Development Division at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community; Bettina Silbernagl, head of the Dialogues for Change project at the German Corporation for International Cooperation; Mariana Kukhelvska, senior staff member at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building, and Community; and Carl Philipp Schuck, senior staff member at the German Corporation for International Cooperation.
There is a lot to learn from our bi-lateral relationship with Germany. We look forward to our continued partnership and to the launch of the next cohort of city-to-city exchanges.