President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, according to media reports Tuesday.
No official announcement of the appointment has been made, as the Biden team has been leaking cabinet selections to the media in advance of formal announcements a day or so later.
Fudge, D-Ohio, had sought to lead the USDA – and even seemed to balk at the idea that she might end up at HUD. She told Politico in November that Black leaders too often are pigeon-holed for only certain cabinet positions, including HUD.
As this country becomes more and more diverse, we’re going to have to stop looking at only certain agencies as those that people like me fit in,” she said. “You know, it’s always ‘we want to put the Black person in Labor or HUD.’”
Similarly, some expressed surprise that Biden chose to nominate her to lead HUD.
“Putting Marcia Fudge in at HUD, when she is highly qualified to lead the USDA and has been a champion for SNAP recipients, is a really bizarre choice,” writer Sarah Jones said in a Tweet.
Fudge will have her plate full at HUD, however, as the Biden Administration will be forced to cope with housing-related fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic – including stubbornly high forbearance levels on mortgages and the eventual end of the eviction moratorium.
Those issues were on her mind earlier Tuesday.
Before the pandemic hit, Biden laid out his housing priorities in February in a $640 billion housing plan that is designed to provide access to affordable, safe and energy-efficient homes that are “located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs.”
Biden’s plan includes a refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000 for people buying their first homes; the creation of a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to build new and improve existing affordable housing; and ending “discriminatory and unfair practices” in the housing market.
The $640 billion price tag would be paid for by raising taxes on businesses and financial institutions, including a financial fee on firms with more than $50 billion in assets. Biden said $300 billion of the plan is devoted to new construction.
The $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund would include $65 billion incentives for state housing authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to build or improve “low-cost, efficient, resilient and accessible housing” where affordable housing is scarce. Another $10 billion would be allotted to making homes more energy efficient and $5 billion will be allocated to the HOME program, which helps communities buy property to build affordable housing.
The remaining $20 billion would go to the Housing Trust Fund (paid for by an assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to support the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
Fudge, 68, first won election to the U.S. House in 2008 and was re-elected last month with more than 80 percent of the vote. She serves on the Agriculture and Education and Labor Committees in the House.
A native of Cleveland, Fudge earned a business degree from Ohio State University and a law degree from Cleveland State University. She was the mayor of Warrensville Heights from 2000 through 2008.