Something amazing happened at AHF Live: The 2005 Tax Credit Developers’ Summit in Chicago this past October.

A group of the best and brightest minds in our industry convened in the ballroom of the Chicago Hilton to take a hard look at how the tax credit program is operating.

You might say we did exploratory surgery, the discussion was that focused and sharp. And what we found was quite sobering. This patient has some very serious problems. The good news is, it can be saved, but not without stronger leadership than we have now.

I am not talking about political leadership. I am talking about leaders of the industry. I am talking about you, our readers, and how we can work together to identify ways to improve the tax credit program and then convince the powers that be to adopt those changes.

Of course you’re busy, but you cannot leave it to others to look at and try to fix the program’s shortcomings while you focus on getting your next deal done. The leadership this industry needs must come from you, and the pages of this magazine and our Web site are your forum.

If every person reading this column were to get involved in advocating for improvements to the tax credit program, we could get them implemented.

With costs rising every day, it’s getting harder to make deals work and it’s more important than ever to achieve greater efficiency and reduce risk.

The first step is to read the breakdown of policy issues discussed at the roundtable (see page 20). Read carefully and consider your own experience. Then write to us and tell us what you think. Help us turn this pastiche of off-the-cuff ideas into a well-argued set of policy proposals. We’ll publish your comments and try to reach a consensus on which policy changes to advocate for in our pages throughout the coming year.


Elsewhere in this issue, you will find a detailed report on the background of Brian Montgomery, the assistant secretary for housing for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the federal housing commissioner. We were mystified by the very sketchy bio released by HUD when he was appointed. Now, we have the official biographical information he filed with the U.S. Senate.

His employment record goes back to 1980, the beginning of a six-year stint in the petrochemical industry. For a summary of his official government job application, see page 18. But don’t take our word for the appropriateness of his experience. The full text is posted as a PDF on our Web site. We are still waiting for him to agree to an unscripted interview.

Next up on our list of HUD officials to interview is Pamela Patenaude, assistant secretary for community planning and development.

Since Congress shot down the Bush administration’s plan to end the Community Development Block Grant program as we know it, this is a good time to look at HUD’s administration of that program. We will explore Patenaude’s record in office and how she intends to run a program that is critical to many cities and their housing programs, but which her bosses at the White House would prefer did not exist. Watch for it in an upcoming issue.


After publishing this magazine for 13 years, we finally decided to give it a face-lift. This issue is the first edition using our new design. I hope you like it. My thanks to our managing editor, Christine Serlin, for making it happen.