Person

Ken Zimmerman

Ken Zimmerman is the director of the mental health strategic impact initiative at the Jed Foundation, adjunct assistant professor of urban planning at New York University (NYU), and a fellow at the NYU Furman Center, NYU’s research center for urban policy. Zimmerman was previously the director of U.S. programs at the Open Society Foundations and prior to that served on the Obama administration presidential transition team and the gubernatorial administration of Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ). Zimmerman was also a senior advisor to Obama Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Early Life

After graduating from law school, Zimmerman became the first executive director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJICJ) in 1999. The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice is a left-of-center nonprofit organization that advocates for increased government intervention in the economy and social spending, opposition to voter integrity laws, and changes to policing that require “rethink[ing] the entire institution of policing and work[ing] toward reducing its footprint[.]” [1]

In 2006, Zimmerman left NJICJ to serve as the chief counsel to Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ). In 2008, Zimmerman joined the Lowenstein Sandler law firm, where he led the firm’s pro-bono practice and served on the Obama Administration presidential transition team. In addition, he served as a senior advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. [2]

Open Society Foundations

Ken Zimmerman was the executive director of U.S. programs for the Open Society Foundations from 2012-2018. [3] The Open Society Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation created and funded by billionaire financier and liberal philanthropist George Soros. In the United States, Open Society Foundation’s U.S. Programs have given hundreds of millions to left-of-center organizations spanning from direct advocacy for Democratic Party-aligned judicial candidates, organizations advocating for taxpayer funded abortions, and organizations that oppose voter integrity laws. [4] Organizations supported by the Open Society Foundations include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, NAACP, the Tides Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Alliance for Citizenship, among numerous others. [5]

During his tenure, Zimmerman managed $100 million in grants to left-of-center organizations annually. [6] In 2015, a leaked document of Working America, an organization that engages in non-union labor advocacy and which is heavily funded by the AFL-CIO, [7] listed Zimmerman as being “central” to developing  collaborations between labor unions and the Open Society Foundations. [8]

Opposition to Trump Administration Housing Policies

In 2019, Zimmerman supported a regulatory comment authored by the NYU Forman Center and Terner Center for Housing Innovation at University of California, Berkley that opposed a Trump administration HUD rule that provided a defense against disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act when a lender or insurance company’s actions, based on non-biased neutral inputs to interest rate calculators, lead to higher interest rates for minority applicants. [9] Zimmer claimed the rule was “a step backward, failing to acknowledge the harms it would impose and allowing unjustified policies and decisions to escape review” and that “given the ongoing work this nation needs to do to create diverse and inclusive communities, the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard is a critical tool.” [10] The Trump administration rule never went into effect due to a federal injunction obtained by the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, [11] a left-of-center organization that supports increased utilization of government services in the housing market and increased enforcement of housing policy laws. [12]

Views on Housing Policy

Ken Zimmerman supported the left-of-center Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) policy, otherwise referred to as “equity planning,” a controversial policy that goes beyond the immediate dictates of the Fair Housing Act to prevent discrimination in housing, and tasks the federal government with actively tying Housing and Urban Development funding to mandates to replace ethnically concentrated living patterns with more ethnically diverse communities. [13] The policy in effect requires local governments that receive HUD funding to set aside housing plans that they believe best serve their communities, as well as housing models that individuals prefer such as single family zoning plans, in favor of zoning plans that minimize racial disparities in housing. The policy was only considered in 1968 and 1995 and put into practice for a brief period by the Obama administration in 2015. [14]

In an article reviewing the history of AFFH policy, Zimmerman thanked the Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations for providing state and local governments with “funding for technical assistance” to collect community data needed to implement the Obama administration’s AFFH policy. [15]

Political Contributions

Ken Zimmerman has made political contributions to Democratic Party-political candidates and political action committees (PACs) since 2004. [16]

Zimmerman contributed $150 to the John Kerry for President campaign, [17] $450 to the Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Senate campaign, [18] $250 to the Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Congressional campaign, [19] and $2000 to the AMC Fund PAC. [20]

References

  1. New Jersey Institute for Social Justice “Policies &  Positions: Policing” https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/njisj/pages/691/attachments/original/1618246657/P_P-Policing_%282%29.pdf?1618246657 ^
  2. “Ken Zimmerman.” Ken Zimmerman | NYU Wagner. Accessed January 19, 2022. https://wagner.nyu.edu/community/faculty/ken-zimmerman. ^
  3. “Ken Zimmerman” Linkedin. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenneth-zimmerman-52439673/ ^
  4. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Open Society Institute (Foundations). Part I. Lines 12, 25, 26, 31. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/OSF-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  5. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Open Society Institute (Foundations). Part I. Lines 12, 25, 26, 31. Available: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2020/03/OSF-2018-Form-990.pdf ^
  6. “Ken Zimmerman Joins the NYU Furman Center as Distinguished Fellow” NYU Furman Center. https://furmancenter.org/thestoop/entry/ken-zimmerman-joins-the-nyu-furman-center-as-distinguished-fellow ^
  7. AFL-CIO, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2016, Schedules 15, 16, and 17. ^
  8. “Big Labor targets Steyer, Soros in massive 2016 fundraising effort” Politico. June 26, 2015. Updated June 28, 2015. Accessed December 22, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/big-labor-donors-george-soros-tom-steyer-119454 ^
  9. “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact  Standard” NYU Furman Center/Terner Center for Housing Innovation. https://furmancenter.org/files/2019-10-17_Disparate_Impact_Comments_FINAL.pdf ^
  10. “Housing Rule Change” Terner Center for Housing Innovation. https://ternercenter.berkeley.edu/blog/leading-housing-researchers-challenge-proposed-fair-housing-rule-change/ ^
  11. “HUD Rescinds Trump-Era Disparate Impact Rule, Restores Obama-Era Rule” National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. https://www.housingonline.com/2021/07/07/hud-rescinds-trump-era-disparate-impact-rule-restores-obama-era-rule/ ^
  12. “About us ” Massachusetts Fair Housing. https://www.massfairhousing.org/about ^
  13.  Katherine M. O’Regan and Ken Zimmerman “The Potential of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmative Mandate and HUD’s AFFH Rule” 21 Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research No. 1. 2019. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol21num1/ch3.pdf ^
  14. Katherine M. O’Regan and Ken Zimmerman “The Potential of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmative Mandate and HUD’s AFFH Rule” 21 Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research No. 1. 2019. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol21num1/ch3.pdf ^
  15. Katherine M. O’Regan and Ken Zimmerman “The Potential of the Fair Housing Act’s Affirmative Mandate and HUD’s AFFH Rule” 21 Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research No. 1. 2019. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol21num1/ch3.pdf ^
  16. “Ken Zimmerman” Federal Election Commission. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Ken+Howard+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+H.+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+Howard+Zimmerman ^
  17. “Ken Zimmerman” Federal Election Commission. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Ken+Howard+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+H.+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+Howard+Zimmerman ^
  18. “Ken Zimmerman” Federal Election Commission. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Ken+Howard+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+H.+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+Howard+Zimmerman ^
  19. “Ken Zimmerman” Federal Election Commission. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Ken+Howard+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+H.+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+Howard+Zimmerman ^
  20. “Ken Zimmerman” Federal Election Commission. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Ken+Howard+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+H.+Zimmerman&contributor_name=Kenneth+Howard+Zimmerman ^
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