Since President-elect Joe Biden nominated Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), members of the housing industry, and Fudge herself, have reacted.
Via Twitter, following the nomination, Fudge said, "This pandemic, the recession, and the plight of racial injustice has chipped away at our country's hope—and at the promise of our nation. But I believe, with the work of this administration, that hope is on the way."
Fudge's first interview following the official announcement reportedly was conducted by the independent publication, The 19th. Fudge told Editor Errin Haines about her experience as Mayor of a city whose population was 98% Black.
"What I know is that people who are hopeless or feel helpless rely very, very heavily on those that they put their confidence into electing," Fudge told Haines. "I’ve worked an awful lot with public housing, I’ve worked with hardest-hit funds, I’ve worked to make sure that we could keep out the people who would come in and ravage our neighborhoods just by flipping houses and leaving houses in disrepair."
In the interview, Fudge stressed the importance of eradicating homelessness, helping communities to understand low-income housing as temporary (a "stopping point"), supporting neighborhood health programs and local credit unions, and empowering people to work jobs in their communities, to name a few things.
"It’s also an attitude, it is bringing hope to people, it is giving them a way out," Fudge added. "That’s what’s exciting to me."
Shelterforce, a community development-centric publication, pointed out that while rallying to join Biden's cabinet, Fudge's first pick was not HUD, but Agriculture, and that she has little experience with housing policy or related congressional committees.
"There are two strains of reaction to Fudge’s nomination in the housing world," wrote Miriam Axel-Lute for Shelterforce.
One is the feeling that Biden is effectively dismissing urban and housing issues by choosing "someone with little experience who clearly preferred another role ...," Axel-Lute noted, citing James DeFilippis, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University who believes that the choice is neglectful, given what we’re about to face in terms of the mounting eviction and foreclosure dangers.
"By all accounts, this is a very confident, capable person who does care,” DeFilippis told Shelterforce. “But I don’t care how smart you are, you don’t just walk into such a huge bureaucracy ready to learn on the job."
The other, writes the Shelterforce contributor, is more optimistic, arguing that that, "Fudge, based on her track record in Congress and her devotion to fighting poverty and inequity, is actually quite likely to provide a strong vision and voice for the agency and will be able to hire the technical expertise that she needs to get the job done."
U.S. House Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters in a press release praised the pick, calling Fudge "a seasoned legislator who is ready to address the challenges that lie ahead."
Waters added that she believes Fudge will "make racial equity a priority from day one, work to restore fairness to our housing system, and promote access to safe, accessible, and affordable housing."