Former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Brian D. Montgomery reflected on his time serving in the administration of President Donald Trump, praised the career and political officials he worked with at the Department and called for a return of civility to American politics in a new piece published by Government Executive.
Understandably shaped by the federal response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Montgomery detailed the time and dedication of the staff at HUD in meeting the needs created by the crisis, and how that substantial occurrence disrupted the lives of many Americans.
“At my agency—the Housing and Urban Development Department—they worked countless days to help the more than 1 million Federal Housing Administration households who requested mortgage forbearance or needed a foreclosure moratorium to remain home,” Montgomery writes. “Other HUD staff worked with their congressional counterparts to make sure property owners and the 4.5 million households who live in HUD-subsidized housing had the funding and critical information they needed to assist vulnerable populations, including seniors and the disabled.”
Others still also helped to release over $9 billion in grants to cities, states and tribal nations hit hard by the pandemic, he says.
Deputy Secretary Montgomery also addresses the January 6th storming of the United States Capitol, describing the events of the day as “an attack on the greatest symbol of our democratic values, and upon the institution of democracy itself,” unifying Americans across the ideological spectrum against the perpetrators. The loss of a civil tone between political opponents is lamented by Montgomery.
“Despite our unity and defense of the bulwarks of liberty, there is a residue of acrimony in the public square that begs the question: Has decorum degraded so much that people will cease respecting the foundation of our shared public lives which is, put simply, common courtesy?,” he asks.
The prerogative of any change in administration puts new people and perspectives in the positions of making decisions that affect the lives of Americans everywhere, and when the new administration settles into the regular rhythm of work it’s Montgomery’s hope that there is a greater understanding about what led the Biden administration’s predecessors to make the decisions they did, he says.
“I am hopeful that when you do, you will understand the magnitude of the effort put forth, of the workload that grew exponentially during the pandemic, and of the tools employed to do our duty effectively and efficiently,” he writes.
He ends wishing the incoming administration well.
“Let us carry on with the common courtesies that are worthy of this grand endeavor, those that come with winning and with losing,” he says. “While our policy differences remain, I wish our new team of public servants the best and hope we can tip our hats to those who are on the way out.”
In his official capacities at HUD, Montgomery addressed the reverse mortgage industry specifically on several occasions, including at events hosted by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) as recently as this past November. Montgomery was also the second guest ever to be featured on the RMD Podcast.
During the George W. Bush administration, Montgomery served as the White House Cabinet Secretary until February 2005, when he assumed the role of Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Housing (also known as FHA Commissioner) for the first time. Montgomery also served in transitionary roles between the Bush and Barack Obama administrations, becoming Acting HUD Secretary for six days in January 2009 before Obama appointee Shaun Donovan was confirmed.
Montgomery would serve as FHA Commissioner in the Obama administration until July of 2009, before assuming work in the private sector at the Collingwood Group, a housing-focused advisory firm. After the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017, Montgomery returned to the government and was confirmed as FHA Commissioner once more in mid-2018, with President Trump marking the third president he has served under after Presidents Bush and Obama, respectively.
Upon the resignation of previously full-time Deputy HUD Secretary Pam Patenaude, Montgomery stepped into the role of Acting Deputy HUD Secretary. He was then nominated to serve as full-time Deputy Secretary by President Trump in late 2019, and was confirmed by the Senate in May, 2020.
Read the Former Deputy Secretary’s piece at Government Executive.