It is a new day at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge.
“This HUD understands what it means to invest in housing,” Fudge told county officials July 10 during NACo’s 2021 Annual Conference. “We know that when we invest in housing, we invest in people. When we invest in people, we make people feel good. When we make people feel good, we inspire them to do good and I believe good things happen to good people.”
Fudge, who started her public service career at the Prosecutor’s Office in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, told county officials “HUD will change the way we do business.”
“We always have to remember that we indeed are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper,” she said. “Goodness demands that every American live with stability and with dignity with a roof over their head.”
Before COVID-19, more than 11 million Americans spent more than 50 percent of their income on rent, she noted. For too many people, Fudge said, a stable home is out of reach.
“I consider every single person who receives HUD support to be in my care, to be my constituents,” she said.
Under her watch, Fudge said HUD will deliver support as quickly as possible and meet urgency with urgency.
The American Rescue Plan delivered more than $22 billion in emergency rental assistance. HUD will also provide $5 billion to assist with emergency vouchers to help those who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
“We must ensure that these resources reach the people who need them — so if you are holding up the money, let it go,” she said.
The country must address the affordable housing crisis head on, she said, and President Biden has asked that the HUD budget be increased by $9 billion, equivalent to a 15 percent increase. Biden’s budget also contains an increase of $295 million in community development block grant funding.
Fudge said she plans on making fair housing enforcement a priority for many who still face discrimination when trying to rent homes or secure mortgages.
“We will engage with local leaders like you to determine the unique challenges and opportunities in each of these communities and then we can work together to forge a more inclusive housing policy for this country,” she said.
As secretary, Fudge said she will ensure that HUD follows a simple philosophy: Strive to do good for others, simply because it is the right thing to do and expect nothing in return.
“I call it ‘being good for nothing,’” she said. “I’m calling on every single person in this room to ‘be good for nothing’ and when we are good for nothing, we will do great things.”