U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge has been elected Chair of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Joining Fudge on the USICH is U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough who was elected as the Council’s Vice Chair.
“I’m honored to have been elected by my fellow members as the Council’s first Chair during the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Fudge. “We are at a pivotal moment for USICH—and for the homelessness crisis in our country. As Chair, I am committed to leveraging the Council to tackle homelessness through a Housing First approach and meaningful interagency collaboration.”
The Council, which consists of representatives from 19 federal agencies, elects new leadership from its members on an annual basis. Each agency is allotted one vote. Secretaries Fudge and McDonough were unanimously elected by all agencies present. The Chair and Vice Chair lead Council meetings, increase public and congressional attention to homelessness, support implementation of the federal strategic plan, and foster collaboration between federal member agencies.
“Not only do both leaders bring extensive experience and expertise on this issue, but they also have a passion for the work that we believe will help propel us forward with renewed energy and momentum,” said Anthony Love, USICH’s Interim Executive Director.
To further foster the work of HUD and USICH, President Biden’s Administration has submitted its Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress. The Budget includes the two historic plans the President has already put forward—the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan–with an emphasis on the reinvestment in housing.
In terms of HUD, Biden’s FY 2022 Budget would:
- Strengthen and Expand Housing Assistance: To increase access to affordable housing and provide greater opportunities for economic independence to families and individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, the Budget proposes an investment of $30.4 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher Program to expand assistance to an additional 200,000 households. The Budget also proposes $3.5 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants to provide housing and supportive services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
- Advance Housing Equity: The Budget makes investments in key areas to bring an end to discrimination in housing and eliminate patterns of racial and ethnic segregation and economic disparities in communities, while proactively advancing equity for historically underserved communities. These investments include $3.8 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, including a $295 million increase targeted at historically-underserved communities and neighborhoods; $723 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Program for affordable housing in Tribal communities; and $85 million for Fair Housing programs, and increased HUD staff capacity to help root out systemic racism and discrimination from our housing market.
- Increase the Production of and Access to Affordable Housing: To lay the foundation for the major long-term investments in the American Jobs Plan, the Budget provides $1.9 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program–an increase of $500 million above the FY21 enacted level–to create affordable housing for low-income households. This request includes a $100 million set-aside for a new Homebuyer Assistance initiative that provides funding to states and insular areas to better support sustainable homeownership. The Budget also proposes a Home Equity Accelerator Loan (HEAL) Pilot that would test new loan products designed to lower barriers to homeownership for first-time, first-generation homebuyers.\
- Promote Climate Resilience, Environmental Justice, and Energy-Efficiency Across the Housing Sector: The Budget includes $800 million to reduce carbon pollution, increase resilience to the impact of climate change, and address environmental justice. Communities served by HUD programs, which often have a significant share of low- and moderate-income households and people of color, are often more vulnerable to climate change due to their locations, aging infrastructure, and historic disinvestment. As part of the Administration’s whole-of-government approach to the climate crisis, the Budget reflects HUD’s commitment to expanding energy-efficient and climate-resilient housing options in public and assisted housing.
“With the FY22 Budget, we are turning the page on decades of disinvestment and disregard for our nation’s housing crisis and putting housing where it belongs–at the center of our efforts to build a stronger, more equitable America,” said Fudge. “The Budget sends a clear signal that HUD is no longer going to be left on the sidelines while millions of Americans struggle with housing and remain shut out from the opportunities a good home provides. The FY22 Budget transforms and empowers HUD to lay the foundation for stronger, more equitable housing infrastructure, to help communities thrive, and to give every person a fair shot to get ahead.”
Addressing the nation’s homelessness crisis has been a top priority for Secretary Fudge and the Biden-Harris Administration. Secretary Fudge recently announced the allocation of $10 billion in American Rescue Plan homelessness assistance: $5 billion in funding through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to increase affordable housing to address homelessness, and $5 billion for 70,000 emergency housing vouchers.