Pamela Hughes Patenaude, the Deputy Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development  (HUD), signed a Memorandum of Cooperation  with Yitzhak Cohen, the Deputy Finance Minister of Israel. The stated goal of the memo is to increase collaboration between the U.S. and the State of Israel on a myriad of issues involving housing, community development, and mortgage finance.
Both parties signed the memo in Jerusalem during a meeting of the U.S.-Israeli Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG). Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, heads the U.S. delegation. According to HUD's website, the memo establishes an open dialogue and exchange of information and research involving low- and moderate-income housing, mortgage and housing finance, management of public housing, and community development.
Deputy Secretary Patenaude’s trip to Israel and the signing of the memo are the culmination of much planning stemming from last year’s JEDG meeting, which occurred in Washington, D.C. Patenaude will participate in a panel discussion on affordable housing with Zeey Bielski, the Head of the Israel Housing Administration, as well as take part in a roundtable hosted by the Urban Clinic at Hebrew University. Afterward she will tour an affordable housing development as well as another development built to minimize damage from earthquakes. Neither site are specified in HUD's press release.
“This cooperative agreement will serve as another building block in strengthening the close ties between our nations on a number of common issues that impact our citizens,” said Patenaude. “We plan to share research and best practices for addressing the affordable housing challenges facing our nations. I am convinced that working together, we will be able to learn from each other to improve the lives of those we serve.”
“The Memorandum of Cooperation on housing is an opportunity to deepen the close ties between Israel and the United States on an important issue that preoccupies both countries,” said Cohen. “Israel and the United States are facing very different housing challenges, but we can learn from these differences and cooperate on sharing acquired knowledge for the benefit of the next generations.”
According to the memorandum itself, the pledge “is an expression of intent only and does not obligate funds, personnel, services, or other resources of either Participant, nor does it create any binding obligations under international or domestic law.” Nevertheless, the memo reads, the “Participants may contract out the research work partially or entirely to outside entities and/or researchers with the consent of both Participants.”