Carol Galante, deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), addressed the Obama administration’s commitment to rental housing at AHF Live: The 2009 Affordable Housing Developers’ Summit in Chicago Oct. 27.

Galante emphasized to AHF Live attendees how HUD is making changes and transforming itself to help create more affordable housing.

She started by praising Secretary Shaun Donovan’s work ethic. She said Donovan is not only a big-picture visionary, but he is down in the weeds getting the work done.

“President Obama understands HUD, both the pros and cons, and had the wisdom to pick Shaun Donovan to be HUD secretary. This is an incredible secretary for HUD. He’s remarkable, and I consider him a mentor,” Galante said.

The change in HUD administration includes the addition of Galante, a longtime affordable housing developer. Many in the industry see her as bringing in a real world perspective to the department.

She touched on many aspects of HUD’s four main goals: addressing the foreclosure crisis, facilitating sustainable communities, restoring federal leadership in multifamily, and changing the way the agency does business.

HUD is focusing on a transformation initiative to overhaul the agency’s departments.

Within the multifamily department, Galante said she is working on changing the attitude to be more customer-focused and act as a partner to developers, owners, property managers, and state and local agencies.

On the leadership front, she said, “We are already being seen as a leader and partner in the administration.” She noted that HUD is making strides in working with other agencies—Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Education—to get more funding to help neighborhoods and to create more housing.

Galante also noted that HUD understands that the low-income housing tax credit has been the largest affordable housing program over the past two decades and is working to drive that message in Washington, D.C.

She also said she hopes to make fixes in the Federal Housing Administration multifamily program as well as Sec. 202 to make it easier for developers to use.

HUD also is working closely with Barney Frank on his draft preservation legislation. Galante said it is vital to continue the affordability of the current housing stock, and that HUD is willing to extend itself to help people underwrite additional debt on these projects.