The Home Builders Institute (HBI) has announced the appointment of Pamela Hughes Patenaude as chair of the nonprofit organization’s board of trustees.

“Pam Patenaude is one of the nation’s most respected leaders in housing,” said Ed Brady, president and CEO of HBI, at its winter meeting. “Her appointment comes at a time when ending the construction labor shortage is a critical priority for the home building industry and the country.”

HBI is a nonprofit provider of trade skills education for the building industry. Nearly 11,000 students in 48 states and Puerto Rico are currently enrolled in 624 of its programs. In partnership with industry, government agencies, nonprofits and schools, the institute provides all its training and placement services at no cost to students.

To meet housing demand for the coming year alone, the residential construction industry would need to have already trained and placed 740,000 additional workers, according to National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) chief economist Robert Dietz. At the same time the country is short, by Dietz’s estimate, of at least one million housing units.

“The construction labor shortage is severely affecting housing availability and affordability,” Brady said. “Pam Patenaude brings to the table a powerful voice at a time when this issue must be placed high on the nation’s housing policy agenda.”

According to Patenaude, decades of “negative cultural pressures” on young people have greatly diminished the number of secondary school students who even consider entering the trades.

“The problem has been growing for many years. And we now find ourselves at a turning point,” she said. “Either as a matter of public policy we create every way possible to encourage young people to pursue career opportunities in the skilled trades, or we will be forever behind as a country in assuring safe, decent and affordable housing in our communities.”

Patenaude is principal at Granite Housing Strategies and served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Functioning as HUD’s chief operating officer, Patenaude managed the day-to-day operations of the agency with its sweeping portfolio of federal housing and community development programs. She oversaw 7,000 employees located in 65 offices nationwide.

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