Is it a new era for HUD? Pam Patenaude was nominated by President Donald Trump to become deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development, according to a White House statement released on Friday. The move has been met with resounding applause—and perhaps a collective sigh of relief—by industry insiders who think her background could serve as the perfect complement to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who entered his role without any experience in housing or government.
Patenaude, currently president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America’s Families, was formerly an assistant secretary for community, planning, and development at HUD, under President George W. Bush. She also served as director of housing policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission. Patenaude’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
“She’s the ultimate housing insider,” says David Reiss, research director for the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law School. “She’s connected and has a lot of respect within the housing field.”
Real estate industry organizations hailed the choice, including the National Association of Realtors®. In a statement, NAR President William E. Brown said, “Pam’s extensive and strong background in real estate and housing will be an asset. … Pam is an ideal candidate for the position; she understands the issues that impact the industry.”
David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, also offered his thumbs-up.
“Pam is an exceptional choice for the position,” Stevens said in a statement. “Personally, I have worked with her for a number of years and she is exactly the kind of leader who will help support the secretary and also address the critical issues ahead for HUD. She has a well-informed understanding of the agency, and essential technical knowledge of the real-estate finance industry. I would encourage the Senate to move swiftly in confirming her nomination.”
This depth of experience, Reiss says, serves as the perfect foil for Carson. As HUD secretary, Carson serves as the public face of this department, while Patenaude will handle the daily duties of running the organization.
“The big criticism of Carson is that he has no experience or background in housing,” Reiss continues. “So to have a No. 2 who’s really responsible for the day-to-day responsibility of the agency is a plus.”
What Patenaude’s appointment could mean for housing
In November, rumors were swirling that the Trump administration was considering Patenaude as HUD secretary, but then Carson got the nod instead, and then the Trump administration released a budget calling for $6 billion in cuts to the department. Patenaude’s nomination has many hopeful that HUD’s core initiatives—like affordable housing—will remain a priority.
“Trump’s ‘skinny budget’ decimated HUD,” Reiss continues. “Trump has made lots of appointments who’ve expressly said they want to destroy the agencies that they’re running. But Patenaude is an insider with HUD. So my hope is she sees the value it provides, and be an advocate for many HUD programs.”
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