The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs last Thursday considered President Joe Biden's nominee Congresswoman Marcia Fudge for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Today housing advocates are calling on the Senate to swiftly confirm the 68-year-old former mayor and congresswoman from Warrensville, Ohio.
"After [Thursday's] nomination hearing, it is clear that she is the ideal candidate to serve as HUD Secretary at this moment in history, Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) said. "With over four million instances of housing discrimination each year and increases in housing-related hate crimes over the past several years, we are eager to work with the Biden-Harris Administration and Secretary-designate Fudge to make fair housing a reality for everyone and advance racial equity."
For the Up for Growth foundation, Mike Kingsella noted following the hearing that Fudge is "the person who will have the most impact on President Biden’s housing plan."
Up for Growth applauded Fudge's denunciation, during her hearing, of NIMBY-ism (she said, "We have to get rid of this notion of Not in My Backyard").
Senator Brian Schatz, the Senate Democratic lead on the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, during his questioning, drew a clear line from the redlining practices of the early 20th Century to the widespread use of exclusionary zoning laws today. Fudge said educating Americans on the negative impact of exclusionary zoning could be a role for HUD.
Writes Kingsella: "We view Congresswoman Fudge’s selection as an indication the Biden Administration would use HUD as a vehicle to achieve racial equity and promote economic security and opportunity. These themes were indeed on display Thursday. From lifting Americans out of poverty to providing a pathway to the middle class through better access to homeownership, Congresswoman Fudge affirmed HUD could further her lifelong mission to alleviate poverty and promote racial justice."
Some housing experts hope that HUD, under Fudge's leadership, has the potential to accomplish unprecedented change, making housing a right rather than a privilege, according to Bloomberg's CityLab.
"Her first two policy priorities will be undoing rules set during the Trump administration that rolled back fair housing discrimination," Malcom Glenn, a fellow in the Future of Land and Housing program at New America told CityLab. "But simply reinstating these protections are the floor of what is possible."
Glenn tells CityLab that many existential housing-related challenges Black families face did not begin with the pandemic.
"These issues go back quite frankly to Reconstruction, and all of the very intentional efforts on behalf of government entities at all levels to undermine Black families to get access to property. It’s a tall order to expect President Biden [and Fudge] to remedy all of those issues. Just recognizing [the] opportunity to repair some of the damage that was done over the last four years is where I would say he should start.”
As the housing industry awaits a confirmation, it is worth noting that in the past 100 years, the Senate has only rejected a nominee three times.
Still, advocates have expressed a sense of urgency.
Echoing the NFHA sentiment, Up for Growth urged the committee and broader Senate to "move quickly to confirm soon-to-be Secretary Fudge so President Biden’s ambitious housing plan – including tackling the scourge of exclusionary zoning and achieving housing equity – can get off to a running start."