Pamela Patenaude will be the next deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after the Senate confirmed her nomination Thursday.

The move comes after a long list of housing industry groups recently urged the Senate to act on Patenaude’s nomination, which took months to bring to a vote.

Pam Patenaude
Stephen Voss Pam Patenaude

The president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, she will 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.

Patenaude’s housing background will be especially important in supporting HUD secretary Ben Carson, who has no housing policy experience. Several key positions at HUD also remain unfilled.

“With her deep housing experience, Pam will be a tremendous asset to secretary Carson and will no doubt hit the ground running," said Terwilliger, founder and chairman of the Terwilliger Foundation. "We need a full team at HUD to respond to America's affordable housing crisis, a challenge made even more difficult by the devastating impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma."

As deputy secretary, Patenaude will lead HUD’s Disaster Management Group and will play a primary leadership and operational role in coordinating the long-term recovery efforts of 16 program and support offices within HUD, including the offices of Public and Indian Housing, Community Planning and Development, Policy Development and Research, and Housing/Federal Housing Administration, reported the agency. To facilitate post-disaster recovery of damaged homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure, Congress appropriated $7.4 billion in funding for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.

Other industry leaders also praised Patenaude's confirmation and said they are eager to work with her in the months ahead.

“Ms. Patenaude —a strong leader with decades of experience cultivating bipartisan solutions to America’s affordable housing crisis—understands that safe, decent, affordable homes transform lives and give people the stability they need to achieve economic mobility, improve their health, and allow children to do better in school,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “She knows that investments in affordable homes for the lowest-income households also bolster productivity and economic growth. Ms. Patenaude has worked throughout her career to advance solutions based on this fundamental understanding.”

She is eminently qualified to serve as deputy secretary, according to Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, noting Patenaude's prior experience in recovery efforts.

Earlier at HUD, Patenaude provided leadership for the long-term recovery efforts needed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Her confirmation could not come at a more appropriate moment as the nation works to help millions of people recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma," Smith said.

Patenaude was confirmed 80-17 with three senators abstaining.

Voting against her were Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich, (D-N.M), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).