Trump Administration's HUD Nominees Advance in Senate
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs recently approved the nominations of Seth Appleton to be Assistant Secretary of HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research and Robert Kurtz to be Assistant Secretary of HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. These nominations head to the full Senate for consideration.
HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research was established in 1973. The office is a research, survey, study, and analysis support system for HUD. It assists in oversight of the U.S. government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac housing mortgage loan enterprises, and it’s meant to facilitate the formation of partnerships between universities and communities so they can jointly address urban problems.
Seth Appleton has spent much of his career as a staffer to members of Congress, serving on the staff of Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) before joining Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s office (R-MO) as a legislative assistant in 2009. He had previously worked as Luetkemeyer’s policy director during his 2008 Congressional campaign. Appleton was promoted to be Luetkemeyer’s chief of staff in August 2009. He remained with Luetkemeyer until leaving in August 2017 for HUD. Appleton landed at HUD as Acting Assistant Secretary and General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, a post he held at the time of his nomination.
HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) was created in 1937 and now has an annual budget of more than $26 billion, most of which is spent on tenant-based rental assistance. Robert Kurtz currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs in the office of HUD Secretary Ben Carson. If confirmed by the Senate, Kurtz would succeed Lourdes M. Castro Ramírez, who served from 2014 to the close of the Obama administration.
Kurtz took his first job related to housing in 2006 serving as Special Assistant to Assistant HUD Secretary for Community Planning and Development Pamela Patenaude, from March 2006 to November 2007. He then served as special assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff at HUD from November 2007 to July 2008, and as policy advisor in HUD’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations from July 2008 to January 2009. During this period, he worked with Brian Montgomery, whom Trump would later tap to become Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration.
Kurtz left his political appointment when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency. In June 2009, however, he returned to HUD in a non-political job, working as a community planning and development specialist until June 2015. Kurtz left federal service to work for the City of Detroit, which had been taken over by state government due to the city’s financial problems. Kurtz was deputy director of Detroit’s Department of Housing and Revitalization from June 2015 to January 2017, when he returned to HUD.