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HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. Photo: Getty Images
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. Photo: Getty Images

What does HUD look like under Marcia Fudge? The first Black woman secretary for the department in 40 years

Fudge enters the role as the country continues its recovery from COVID-19, which created a massive eviction crisis felt nationwide.

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In a 66-34 vote on Wednesday March 10, the Senate confirmed Ohio Democrat Marcia Fudge as the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, adding another woman of color to the ranks of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. 

Fudge’s confirmation makes her the first Black woman to hold this position in more than 40 years. Biden on the whole, has chosen several women of color to serve on his Cabinet, including Deb Haaland, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Cecilia Rouse. 

Fudge has represented Ohio in Congress since 2009 and previously served as chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Her appointment to Biden’s Cabinet leaves a vacant spot in the House, where Democrats currently hold a narrow majority. She formally resigned not long after the House held their final vote in the chamber on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. 

As head of the nation’s housing agency, Fudge will inherit the arduous task of restoring the state of America’s housing structures. The country was already facing a housing crisis that was exacerbated by the pandemic, but Fudge is qualified and eager to provide hope and relief. 

She made the case that many Americans are in need of much more than an extension of the eviction moratorium and Congress’s provision of $25 billion in rental assistance.

Fudge is accustomed to blazing the trail for fellow Black women in politics. As the first Black woman to serve as mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, she expanded affordable housing. 

"My first priority as secretary would be to alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge," she said during her Senate confirmation hearing in January.

Although the nation is beginning to turn the corner as vaccines are rolling out, millions of Americans are still struggling to keep up with rent and mortgage payments, and hundreds of thousands are estimated to be experiencing homelessness. 

Fortunately, she has bipartisan support and her fellow Ohio colleagues have a strong confidence that Fudge is perfectly suited to make some real changes.

Sen. Sherrod Brown claimed that Fudge has “a real vision” when it comes to housing. “She knows the problems in her district and in our state,” Brown said.

Sen. Brown leads the Senate Banking committee, and believes the new leadership will strive for eviction moratoriums, more affordable housing, and expanded loan opportunities for low-income families and communities of color. 

”A million Americans got evicted every year prior to the pandemic and we know it’s going to get worse before it gets better — unless we act,” said Brown.

Fudge also received support from another Ohio Senator, Republican Rob Portman. Sen. Portman said that despite their political differences, the two are friends and work well together. 

That’s not the case with other colleagues across the aisle.

In the past, Fudge has made some comments about Republicans that rubbed Senator Pat Toomey the wrong way. In one instance, she accused the GOP of having no empathy towards the plight of people of color. 

”It’s one thing to have strongly-held views and disagreements, but I’m troubled by this...in my mind, they raise questions about your willingness and ability to work with Republicans,” Toomey said during Fudge’s nomination hearing.

Fudge responded gracefully by admitting that she hasn’t always had “the perfect tone,” but promised to reach across the aisle to successfully collaborate with Republicans on pressing issues. 

Fudge has set forth some very ambitious goals, including narrowing the racial homeownership gap by exploring down payment assistance programs, delivering Biden’s promise of constructing energy-efficient affordable housing units, and taking on the homelessness crisis with “compassion and resolve.” 

Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty sees Fudge as a key figure in the caucus’ goal to pass broad housing legislation that would benefit Black and Latino communities. 

“She knows that market, she will look to those communities where there have been food deserts and children have gone to bed hungry and without a roof over their head. She knows those communities. So she'll bring diversity. She'll bring different ideas to the table,” Beatty said. 

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