Editor's Note: This story was updated on Nov. 23.
Who will be the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?
When a possible organizational chart under a Trump administration was leaked, different federal agencies had a name assigned to it. However, there was no name attached to HUD. It was blank, a mystery.
And, the Trump transition team had yet to visit HUD, according to multiple industry insiders earlier this week.
However, several possible candidates to be the nation’s top housing official have been floated since the Nov. 8 election. They include:
· Rob Astorino, county executive of Westchester County, N.Y. Hearing Astorino’s name as a possible HUD pick is alarming to many housing advocates because he’s fought HUD on fair housing issues in his home area.
· Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the conservative Family Research Council. The Ohio Republican served briefly as HUD undersecretary in the George H.W. Bush administration. He is on the Trump transition team.
· Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts. He served in the Senate for three years, starting in 2010 and has recently become more engaged in housing issues. He’s currently on the executive committee of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families.
· Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate. Trump recently said on Twitter that he was seriously considering Carson for the HUD post even though Carson has little background in housing.
· Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and regulator of those companies and the Federal Home Loan Banks, from 2009 to 2014. He is a senior fellow in residence at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets.
· Rick Lazio, former four-term New York congressman. Head of the affordable housing and housing finance practice at the Jones Walker law firm, he has deep knowledge of HUD and the low-income housing tax credit program. He could hit the ground running, being both a political and a housing insider.
· Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Republican congressman from Missouri. The MReport, a mortgage banking news source, recently listed him in an article as a good pick for HUD secretary. He has a background in banking.
· Brian Montgomery, former Federal Housing Administration commissioner and HUD assistant secretary from 2005 to mid-2009. He is vice chairman of The Collingwood Group, a Washington, D.C.-based business advisory firm.
· Pamela Patenaude, president of the Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families. Previously, she served as policy director of the Bipartisan Policy Center. From 2001 to 2007, Patenaude served as assistant deputy secretary for field policy and management at HUD and as the agency’s assistant secretary for community, planning and development.
· Bob Woodson, president of Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, also looks to be in the running. He's been advising House Speaker Paul Ryan on poverty issues. Woodson recently told The Washington Post that he is being considered for the top housing post. "They seem to be very serious about it," he tells the newspaper.
Patenaude briefly stopped by at AHF Live: The 2016 Affordable Housing Developers Summit on Wednesday with Terwilliger, who was being inducted into the Affordable Housing Hall of Fame. She was tight-lipped, refusing to make any comments at all about a possible move to HUD.
Lazio was also at AHF Live in Chicago. Several affordable housing industry leaders said Lazio with his political clout and housing expertise would be a strong pick.
He also declined to discuss whether he is a candidate or if he is interested in the job. However, he shared a brief general comment on the post.
“The top spot at HUD is a very important leader within the administration,” Lazio told Affordable Housing Finance. “The person is responsible for making the case on the Hill and within the administration for more innovation solutions to the silent housing crisis.”
He also said that “it is important that whoever gets appointed has knowledge, credibility, and political standing to lead in a way that we need.”