Published September 20, 2019
"We see a lot of cities and nonprofits thinking creatively on how federal dollars can go the furthest. Personally I find that exciting."
This excitement and interest in seeing cities developed more sustainably drives attorney Taylor Hawes' work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Fort Worth, TX. A graduate of the combined law and urban planning degree program at UB, Hawes draws heavily from both fields in his work. While his law background is essential to his work, he stresses the importance to planners of having a knowledge base in law, "you have to understand the framework you're working in."
A lawyer with a deep interest in planning for better cities, Hawes oversees applications for HUD's underwriting of mortgages while working with cities and community organizations on legal issues tied to their grants. "We see a lot of cities and nonprofits thinking creatively on how federal dollars can go the furthest."
A native of Salt Lake City, Hawes discovered a passion for urban planning as a teenager. As a missionary for his church, he lived in Milton Keynes, a planned city built by the UK government in the 1960s according to the New Towns and Garden City planning movements. Here he realized cities could not continue to sprawl and gobble up undeveloped farmland. “We can’t do that anymore - we can’t solve problems by creating new problems.”
Hawes says his education in urban planning at UB broadened his perspective and taught him to "look at problems from different directions and multiple ways." The UB Master of Urban Planning studio experience cultivated invaluable skills in team-based and community-informed learning. "There is no planning work that gets done by an individual" he says.
He says courses on the development process, and community development financing, were also fundamental to his career preparation. "Having that foundation helped me understand the constraints and realities of people that come to the government to apply for our insurance program."
Hawes adds that his legal background provides both expertise on the law and essential tools in critical thinking. "The thing I like about being a lawyer, is that there isn't a problem that we can't solve."
Pivoting to the future, Hawes is optimistic despite the challenges likely to come from unsustainable housing growth in Texas. "More interesting problems are coming my way," he says, "and this is exciting to me."