President Donald Trump on Friday tapped Pam Patenaude as his pick for Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, part of a significant crop of federal appointments announced by the White House.
Patenaude currently serves as the president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, a nonprofit focused on promoting affordable rental housing. The former Reagan and George W. Bush advisor has also worked as the director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s housing commission, and served as HUD’s assistant secretary for community planning and development during the younger Bush’s administration.
As RMD noted last fall, Patenaude’s name had been floated as a potential Trump choice for HUD secretary, a gig that eventually went to retired neurosurgeon and failed 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson. Back in December, Patenaude had nothing but kind words for Carson in an interview with NPR’s Diane Rehm.
“He’s an intellect. He’s a man with tremendous passion,” Patenaude said, according to a transcript of the interview. “I believe Dr. Carson is the right man at the right time to lead HUD.”
“HUD is in desperate need of leadership, and somewhat retooling of the programs that have been in place now for decades,” she continued.
Patenaude also defended Carson’s controversial comments in a Washington Times op-ed piece from 2015, in which he criticized federal attempts to desegregate federal housing and blasted previous government anti-segregation efforts as “failed socialist experiments.”
“I think Dr. Ben Carson pointed out there were programs in the past that were failed experiments,” Patenaude said. “I believe Dr. Ben Carson clearly understands the fair housing law.”
In response to a question from Rehm about the potential elimination of HUD as a federal agency, Patenaude predicted that Trump would focus on “deregulation” and “streamlining” the department.
“I know that the advocates are in favor of protecting the status quo, but it’s time for us to take a look at the HUD program, how we can improve that,” she said.
She went on to decry the amount of public authorities that administer the Section 8 housing assistance program, and suggested that technological advances could help make those functions more efficient. She also called the formulas used to allocate funds under the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs “antiquated.”
“I think we can take a look at that,” she said.
Carson lauded Patenaude’s nomination in a press release issued Friday afternoon, touting her experience with housing issues.
“I look forward to working with her to achieve more efficient and effective housing policies that create jobs, strengthen communities, and ensure safe, affordable housing for all Americans,” Carson said in the statement.
The Mortgage Bankers Association similarly trumpeted the president’s choice of Patenaude in a release issued this afternoon.
“Pam is an exceptional choice for the position,” MBA president David Stevens said in the 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.”
The Bipartisan Policy Center, Patenaude’s former employer, has had positive words for reverse mortgages in the recent past, providing an unbiased description of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program and touting its consumer protections in a 2015 blog post, and suggesting that “reverse mortgages could play a larger role in meeting the financial needs of older adults” back in 2013. In the latter post, the BPC also advocated for “access to low-cost and effective reverse mortgage counseling.”
The Senate still must confirm Patenaude before she can take the reins as Carson’s second-in-command.
Trump selected a variety of nominees for administration jobs Friday, including choices for Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Treasurer, and Chief Information Officer of the Department of Homeland Security.
Written by Alex Spanko