HUD Sec. Fudge meets with civil rights leaders to address pandemic housing challenges

EXCLUSIVE: Fudge, the nation's 18th Housing and Urban Development secretary, breaks down the billions of dollars earmarked for Black and Brown Americans in need

Secretary Marcia Fudge met with civil rights leaders during an hour-long virtual meeting on Thursday, marking her first meeting since being confirmed as the nation’s 18th Housing and Urban Development Secretary.  

Fudge talked exclusively with theGrio to share the initiatives and priorities that came to the surface during the meet. The Secretary wanted to “thank [the civil rights leaders] for all the support they gave me through the process.” Fudge added, “I wanted to hear what they were thinking about.”

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Read More: HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s agenda targets homelessness and homeownership

Some of the main issues raised during the call included fair and affordable housing, increasing access to capital for Black and Brown people and ensuring there are proper resources for those at risk of being evicted due the pandemic. 

Addressing COVID-19 and utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan tied Fudge’s plans to remedy the problems in the housing market. 

Money earmarked for HUD through ARP, according to Secretary Fudge, includes up to “$40 billion just for housing, $20 billion for assistance, another $10 billion for homeowners assistance, and then another $10 billion in $5 billion tranches that deal with homelessness.”

On fair housing, she said “it’s unbelievable that we are still at this time [having] the same percentage of homeownership that we did in 1968. And if we don’t change the way that we allow people to purchase homes, we don’t make it fair. Then it’s going to be worse, it’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse unless we are very intentional about it.”

National Urban League President Marc Morial, Rev. Al Sharpton and others were front and center at the meeting. 

Rev. Al Sharpton speaks next to Marc Haydel Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Eviction resources are paramount for Morial. He said before Fudge was nominated as HUD Secretary, the civil rights leaders pushed for the resources in relief bills. 

The leaders and Fudge are in alignment to help those who fall through the cracks. Morial said there are assurances and “the tools were there to benefit renters and homeowners.” 

Fudge is poised to be part of a broader plan in the Biden administration. Morial believes Secretary Fudge “will play a big role in the upcoming infrastructure and economic development bill the president is talking about.”

That plan is ultimately meant to revitalize the ailing economy with jobs. During our exclusive interview, Fudge said the country does not have enough affordable housing units. She also said affordable housing is a priority for President Joe Biden. Now the question is whether that be one of the components of the president’s infrastructure plan.

Overall, Morial described the late Friday virtual meeting with civil rights leaders and the Secretary as “outstanding” in terms of achieving “equity” and “justice,” and hailed the issues raised as centerpieces for this new Department of Housing.

Morial said Fudge gives him “confidence that there is someone [who] is seasoned, experienced and knowledgeable in that seat.”

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