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A Focus on HUD

This week promises to be a busy one at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a report on homelessness, the resignation of HUD's Deputy Secretary Pamela Patenaude, and the question of the impact of a partial government shutdown looming over the agency. Read on to learn more about all that is impacting the agency this week.

Pamela Patenaude Resigns

Pamela Patenaude, Deputy Secretary at HUD announced her decision to resign from her position at HUD and leave the agency in the new year. In a statement, Patenaude said that serving at HUD had been the highlight of her 35-year career in housing. Indicating that she would be returning to her home state of New Hampshire, Patenaude said, "It has been an honor to serve President Trump and Secretary Carson and I am deeply grateful to both for this opportunity. Thank you to my HUD family and fellow "housers" for helping Americans access decent, safe, and affordable housing."

Patenaude was sworn in as Deputy Secretary in September 2017. In this position, she led HUD initiatives that included granting $5 billion in disaster relief funding for Texas after Hurricane Harvey, signing a memorandum of understanding with Israel to increase collaboration between the two countries on myriad issues involving housing, community development, and mortgage finance, and grants to speed up the housing recovery in Puerto Rico.

While it remains to be seen who would be filling Patenaude's position, FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery has been appointed as the Acting Deputy Secretary for HUD. “Pam Patenaude has been a dynamic and effective deputy secretary, which is one of the most important housing positions in any administration,” said David M. Dworkin, President and CEO at National Housing Conference. “She has been a passionate advocate for relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and a key voice on behalf of housing within the Trump administration.”

He added, “The good news is that Secretary Carson has built a strong team at HUD. Brian D. Montgomery will be an outstanding acting deputy secretary and should be considered a front-runner for a permanent appointment.”

HUD and the Government Shutdown

There are only five days to go before funding expires for several key federal agencies, including HUD, while the Republicans and Democrats debate over the funding for the border wall with Mexico. If both the sides aren't able to resolve their differences by midnight December 21, the government is likely to head towards a partial shutdown.

According to the Washington Examiner, past shutdowns have hit HUD hard, with almost 96 percent of its employees on furlough during that period.

In an advisory to its employees when a government shutdown threatened its funding in January this year, HUD had said that in case of a shutdown, the agency's operations and most of its functions would cease "unless they are legally excepted activities." A large majority of HUD employees are non-excepted, which means that they are prohibited from working during a shutdown.

A Look at Homelessness

On Monday, HUD presented its Annual Homeless Assessment Report to the Congress. The report is released in two parts with the first part providing the point-in-time (PIT) estimates offering a snapshot of homelessness on a single night. According to the PIT estimates, approximately 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness across the country on a single-night in 2018. Of these, about two-thirds, or 65 percent, were staying in sheltered locations such as emergency or transitional housing programs, and one-third, or 35 percent, were in unsheltered locations such as on the streets or living in abandoned buildings.

The report also indicated that the number of homeless people on a single night increased by 0.3 percent between 2017 and 2018, while the number of unsheltered individuals increased by 3 percent during the same period. The number of people experiencing homelessness in families with children continued to decline, by two percent between 2017 and 2018, and by 23 percent between 2007 and 2018.

Click here to read the full report.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and editor. A former Online Editor and currently a reporter for MReport, she is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.
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