Marcia Fudge was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday as Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary by a vote of 64-33, making her the first Black woman to lead the government agency in more than 40 years.
Fudge was first elected to Congress in 2008 and will leave her role as Representative for Ohio’s 11th congressional district to serve in the cabinet. As HUD secretary, Fudge may renegotiate changes the Trump administration made last year to several rules, including “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice” and “HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard.”
The agency will examine whether the Trump administration’s rules harmed access to fair housing.
Days after taking office, President Joe Biden signed several new executive orders that address racial equity, including a memorandum that directs HUD to both mitigate racial bias in housing and advance fair housing laws.
During her nomination hearing in January, Fudge vowed to end discrimination in housing upon approval of her confirmation. She said part of her priorities for HUD, “will require us to end discriminatory practices in the housing market, and ensure that our fair housing rules are doing what they are supposed to do: opening the door for families, especially families of color who have been systematically kept out in the cold across generations, to buy homes and punch their ticket to the middle class.”
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Fudge received pushback from Republican senators for some of her previous comments. In once instance, Fudge said, “Republicans don’t care about people of color, even a little bit. But if they do, I am willing to listen.”
However, Fudge said her track record is one of bipartisanship and that she is committed to working across the aisle in her new role.
“I have the ability and the capacity to work with Republicans and I am committed to doing just that.”
She was thought to be a contender for Agricultural Secretary due to her position on the House Committee on Agriculture, however, Biden selected Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for this role, who previously served as Agricultural secretary under President Barack Obama for eight years.
“We cannot afford to have people–millions of people evicted from their homes or their apartments, because the problem then just gets worse it doesn’t get better,” Fudge said. “I understand that there are some who believe that we are doing more than we should, but I believe we are not doing enough.”
Following her nomination in December, a number of housing organizations and trade groups stepped forward to congratulate her, and have once again rallied to share their encouragement.
“The National Association Realtors congratulates Marcia Fudge on her bipartisan confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” said Charlie Oppler, president of the trade group. “As a former mayor, Secretary Fudge recognizes the critical role HUD programs play in preserving the American Dream and ensuring everyone in this country has access to a safe, affordable home.
“NAR looks forward to partnering with Secretary Fudge as we continue our work to address racial disparities in real estate and our nation’s persistent housing affordability crisis,” Oppler said.
“With her service as a local elected official and mayor of an inner ring suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and her work behind the scenes at the U.S. Treasury Department, she brings an impressive track record of leading efforts to revitalize communities and advocating for vulnerable populations and underserved communities,” said David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference.
“A dedicated public servant, Secretary Fudge will bring fresh ideas to advancing community development and driving much-needed investments to close the minority homeownership gap and increase affordable housing opportunities in communities across the nation,” Dworkin said.
Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, said that Fudge’s many years in government and role in the Congressional Black Caucus will serve her well as head of the nation’s largest housing agency.
“Secretary Fudge has an opportunity to address protracted problems in public housing that have existed for decades,” Zaterman said. “Years of willful neglect and chronic disinvestment in public housing has left the portfolio in disrepair. Recapitalizing the public housing portfolio is a significant step towards reversing racial inequities created by decades of racist housing policies.”
Secretary Fudge can also take meaningful measures toward a permanent and significant expansion of the Housing Choice Voucher program,” Zaterman continued. “CLPHA looks forward to working with Secretary Fudge as she works toward ensuring everyone has access to safe and affordable housing and addressing housing inequity for people of color.”