The HUD Secretary says affordable housing is an American issue

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WASHINGTON: On Monday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge announced her retirement from public service and her return to Ohio, following decades of public service. Fudge will leave her top position in the Biden administration this month.

“It’s time to head home,” Fudge stated in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. As we head into this crazy, silly election season, I firmly believe that I have done almost everything I could have done at HUD on behalf of this administration. “.

During her three years as cabinet secretary, Fudge led the federal agency through housing crises following the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the organization’s second Black woman director.

Following almost fifty years of public service, which included over ten years in Congress, Fudge, seventy-one, announced that she is retiring from public life.

March 22 is Fudge’s last day. The timing of her resignation coincides with the intensifying campaign season, when Democratic nominee Joe Biden is anticipated to challenge Republican nominee Donald Trump once more.

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Both Republicans and Democrats, according to Fudge, ought to prioritize affordable housing.

It’s not a red or blue issue, the woman declared. It’s not a one-sided issue because everyone is aware that there is a problem. This is an American problem. ‘’.

During her time there, Fudge said, she worked to strengthen the organization’s capacity to assist homeless individuals, families in need of housing, and local economies.

In a statement announcing her resignation, Biden concurred.

The statement said, “She has been a strong voice over the past three years for expanding efforts to build generational wealth through homeownership, lowering costs, and promoting fairness for America’s renters.”. “We’ve aided first-time homebuyers and are attempting to lower the cost of renting because of Secretary Fudge. Furthermore, more homes are being built now than at any other point in the previous fifty years. “.

Fudge is concerned that there won’t be enough money to complete the remaining tasks, such as renovating dilapidated public housing complexes and creating more affordable homes.

She wished the organization had received more funding than $3 billion to upgrade multi-family and public housing. She stated that over $70 billion is required.

Fudge had hoped that Congress would grant ongoing support to communities in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes. HUD is often helpful in long-term rehabilitation.

“We’re making small changes, but we need to make bigger changes more quickly,” she remarked. “We’re making every effort with the resources at our disposal. “.”.

Fudge takes a vow to never run again.

“You shouldn’t expect me to ever appear on another ballot, be appointed again, or do anything similar,” she uttered. “I’m really excited to live as a private citizen. “.

Fudge is one of the few well-known members of Biden’s cabinet to resign.

Marty Walsh, the labor secretary, departed early in order to become the head of the union that represents National Hockey League players. The director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Eric Lander, who was promoted to a cabinet position, resigned in 2022 in response to grievances regarding his handling of employees.

As compared to the six most recent administrations, Biden’s cabinet has “experienced record-level stability,” according to think tank The Brookings Institution.

“I think we’re there, and when you’re in these kinds of roles, you go out when you’re on top,” Fudge stated. “We’ve transformed an organization that no one previously discussed, believed in, or had any faith in.”. ‘’.

“I belong to these people.”.

Throughout his travels, Fudge has visited housing developments and communities in both urban and rural areas, frequently advocating for public-private partnerships to increase the supply of affordable housing. She also made use of her position to raise awareness of the needs of those without a place to live.

Fudge said in a statement on Monday announcing her resignation, “The people HUD serves are those who are often left out and left behind.”. “These people are mine.”. They are my source of inspiration for all that we have managed to achieve. ‘’.

California Rep. The leading Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters, stated that Fudge has consistently supported initiatives to combat homelessness and mentioned that she worked to have money included in the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

According to Waters, Fudge testified before Congress on a variety of topics, including discrepancies in home appraisals, and made multiple trips to Los Angeles County, California, to raise awareness of the homeless problem there.

Waters stated, “I believe that to be her legacy.”.

HUD highlights a number of achievements under Fudge’s direction, including the issuance of 120,000 new vouchers—the greatest number in over 20 years—to assist homeless individuals in relocating into temporary housing.

Seventeen years after Hurricane Katrina devastated communities along the Gulf Coast, Fudge said she is most proud of having closed the “Road Home” program in Louisiana. The program’s use of a funding formula that some have deemed discriminatory has drawn criticism; it was intended to assist families in rebuilding their homes. According to Fudge, debt incurred after the hurricane had left over 3,000 homeowners with liens on their properties.

She remarked, “They have lived with this for 17 years, and nobody cared enough to do anything about it.”.

For the first time, Fudge expressed pride in the agency for allocating over 20 percent of its procurement funds to Black and Brown business owners as well as owners of small, disadvantaged enterprises.

In order to support young people transitioning out of foster care, HUD also spent over $30 million on housing.

Helping those without homes—many of whom are Black people—has been a primary priority, according to Fudge. According to her, HUD provided $3 billion in assistance to regional nonprofit organizations last month.

She declared, “Nobody should sleep on a bench, on the street, or beneath a bridge when they live in the richest country in the world.”. Just a tragedy, that’s all. ”.

Fudge is going back home to Ohio.

According to Fudge, her resignation was primarily a personal choice. She has a close relationship with her mother, Marian Garth Saffold, who turns 93 this April. Fudge desired to spend more time in Ohio with her and his other relatives.

With a lengthy history in Ohio, Fudge is a Democrat and the former national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, one of the biggest Black sororities in the country. She was the first Black person and woman to be elected mayor of Warrensville Heights.

Later, she won a seat in the U. S. house and held the position of Congressional Black Caucus chair. She conducted hearings on voting rights across the nation in 2019 while serving as the chair of the House elections subcommittee.

According to Fudge, she never planned to remain in Washington. In Ohio, she resides and casts her ballot. But it felt right to have the chance to head HUD.

This is my intended location, according to God.

When Fudge became HUD secretary in 2021, agency budget cuts and threats of mass evictions following the pandemic were acknowledged. “Going here was a duty and an honor, and I think this is where God wanted me to be,” she declared.

Rep. James Clyburn, D-S. C. argued that Fudge’s background as a lawyer and mayor qualified her to head HUD, despite their initial push for her to be Agriculture Secretary.

“She did an amazing job,” Clyburn remarked, mentioning that Fudge had multiple meetings with state-level grassroots activists. “People kept telling me about her visits and her interactions with those impacted by these decisions,” I was told frequently. “.

According to Clyburn, understanding, appreciating, and supporting policy is a different matter entirely from the policy itself. Marcia Fudge has a long suit like that. “.

Although Fudge is unsure about her successor, she expressed confidence in her team of leaders.

She stated that as a private citizen, she will still support the Biden administration, though she is unsure of what capacity. Whatever it is, Ohio will be the source. She may depart Washington as early as the following month.

She remarked, “There just comes a time, and you know when that time is.”. ”.

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