Pamela Hughes Patenaude, who has 30 years of experience in housing and public policy, has been nominated to be deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Pam Patenaude
Stephen Voss Pam Patenaude

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he would send the nomination to the Senate for confirmation.

The move begins to build the department’s leadership team under Ben Carson, who recently became HUD secretary. A retired neurosurgeon, Carson has no housing policy experience and has not led a government agency, so it will be critical to have experienced deputy and assistant secretaries.

If confirmed, Patenaude would be making a return to HUD. From 2001 to 2007, she served as assistant deputy secretary for field policy and management and later as assistant secretary for community, planning and development.

She is president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, a nonprofit dedicated to illuminating the affordable housing crisis in America. Prior to co-founding the foundation, Patenaude served as director of housing policy for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“She will bring a wealth of experience and steady leadership to HUD in her new role as the department’s chief operating officer,” Carson said in a statement. “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.”

Several housing leaders also praised the nomination, citing Patenaude’s experience.

“Ms. Patenaude is a strong leader with decades of experience cultivating bipartisan solutions to America’s affordable rental housing crisis,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “She has deep knowledge of, experience with, and appreciation for the critical programs she will oversee.”

Her nomination comes at a critical time, according to Yentel, noting that NLIHC’s recently released report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, shows that the U.S. has a shortage of 7.4 million affordable rental homes available to the lowest=-income people.

“Every state and congressional district is directly impacted by the growing housing affordability crisis,” she said. “Because of chronic underfunding of rental housing assistance programs, just one in four of the poorest people in America get the housing assistance they need.”

The National Housing Conference (NHC), National Multifamily Housing Council, and National Apartment Association were among the other industry organizations to issue statements supporting Patenaude’s nomination.

“She knows both the business of affordable housing and the powerful role it plays to help people and communities prosper,” said Chris Estes, NHC president and CEO. “There is great potential for bipartisan solutions to the nation’s housing challenges, and we hope Ms. Patenaude can help lead the department in those efforts. NHC congratulates her and urges the Senate to confirm her swiftly.”