Meet Marcia Fudge, the Newly Appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Over the last few years, affordable and accessible housing has been an increasing concern for the country. The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated an already alarming situation. Let's take a look at what's happening in housing, with the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge, and her input on the current state of affairs and the future.
Fudge, a graduate of The Ohio State University and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, was the first female and African American mayor to be elected in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. While mayor, she worked to protect her community against predatory lending, addressed the growing foreclosure crisis, prioritized improving the City's tax base, and expanded opportunities for affordable housing. After her tenure as mayor, she served as a U.S. Representative for the 11th Congressional District of Ohio from 2008 to 2021. In 2021, President Biden appointed Fudge as the Secretary of HUD. Over the last 22 years of her career, Marcia has seen firsthand the insecurity and instability that faces many Americans. Especially those who are low-income or people of color.
In recent interviews and appearances, Madame Secretary Fudge touched on the eviction moratorium, financial aid, and the struggles everyday people face in their lives. Fudge shares the President's concern for the housing crisis caused by the pandemic and has years of firsthand experience handling these challenges.
In her interview with NPR's Michel Martin at the beginning of May, Fudge quickly acknowledged that relief was delayed in reaching citizens. A problem frequently encountered with numerous assistance programs such as: stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and other COVID packages. The process for obtaining or applying for these benefits and plans was a frustrating and emotionally draining undertaking on the best of days. And on the worst days? Unobtainable by those who needed it most.
"Part of the problem was that as resources came out so quickly... there was a lot of money going through the pipeline. And most of our communities, especially the smaller ones, did not have the capacity to use it as quickly as we would have liked," Says Fudge in her NPR interview. She continues, adding, "...yes, there were some logjams. But I do believe that now - that they have the kind of direction they need, the technical assistance from us as well as our people on the ground assisting them. You're going to see that money start to move a lot quicker because we know that the need is so great."
Ms. Fudge has plenty of reason to be optimistic about her current outlook, especially when you compare the country's current condition to this time last year. Since the confusing and dreadful first few months of the pandemic, relief bills and various assistance measures have passed, delivering American's the bare minimum financial aid and protections. These include legislation or protections such as the Eviction Moratorium, the Paycheck Protection Program, the COVID Relief Package, The American Rescue Plan, and the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). Since early 2020, over 9 trillion dollars have been promised or allocated to help with the hardships caused by the pandemic via Administrative Actions, Legislative Actions, or Federal Reserve Actions.
But this wasn't the only issue Sec. Fudge addressed. One of the biggest hurdles stated in her interview "is that tenants don't know their own rights. And so we are trying to educate tenants on where to go." This hindering lack of knowledge isn't just the case for those who rent but homeowners as well. "Many of them do not know that they can go to their lender and renegotiate their loan if they need to... We have $20 million that we are using to assist people legally so that they don't have to fight these battles by themselves."
Sec. Fudge discussed homelessness, gentrification, and its part in continuing the cycle of systemic racism. Mortgages and loans are often roadblocks that many Americans face when trying to afford their own home. And many areas facing these challenges consist of low-income families or people of color. Fudge says, "When you have a system that says that - yeah, we'll sell our houses that have been foreclosed. But what happens is they sell them to investors because you have to - but they sell them in tranches, 50 or 60 at a time, you know? They do things that make it difficult for you or me or some low-income person to just go and buy a house on a street, you know?... FHA and most lenders do not want to loan you money for a house that costs less than $75,000. Those are the very houses that people are scooping up, rehabilitating, and selling them for a million dollars."
Secretary Fudge is very attuned to the problems facing communities and families across the country. Her goal during her appointment is to remind people that they have a government and administration that cares to make a difference—that wants to make a difference. D3G and other due diligence organizations look forward to the contributions Secretary Fudge will have towards the industry and the everyday lives of Americans.