Changes, Big and Small

Things keep changing; sometimes for the better, sometimes worse. When President Obama nominated Shaun Donovan as HUD secretary, many of us cheered. Donovan is smart and experienced, and he cares. In turn, he appointed assistant secretaries with those same characteristics. With a good staff in place, HUD began the difficult task of undoing years of complexity, confusion, and contradiction in its many programs and regulations. It’s a task that won’t and shouldn’t happen overnight. It is the long arc Donovan described in our last issue of Shelterforce and requires much thought, experimentation, and analysis before a new model can replace the old.

The Preserving, Enhancing, and Transforming Rental Assistance (PETRA) program is one of those experiments, and it is being tested even before it is put to the test. Advocates and practitioners have critiqued the plan, some vigorously. In this issue of Shelterforce, we present many of those critiques and provide context to them. There is still a long way to go before some version of PETRA is adopted, and to its credit, HUD seems to be listening to us. Now that’s a good change.

Another change is closer to home. In 1997 Miriam Axel-Lute joined NHI. Over the next five years, Miriam was instrumental in the growth of NHI and Shelterforce. She left in 2002, but remained with us as a contributing editor. I’m pleased to say that Miriam has returned to NHI as associate director and editor of Shelterforce. While I will continue to contribute ideas to Shelterforce, the improvements you’ll see in the magazine will be the work of Miriam and senior editor Matthew Hersh.

Harold Simon is the former executive director of the National Housing Institute and former publisher of Shelterforce.


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