|HUD No. 21-039
HUD Public Affairs
March 12, 2021
HUD SECRETARY FUDGE ISSUES VIDEO MESSAGE TO HUD STAFF
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge sent the following message to the Department:
You may watch remarks here.
Hi everyone. Earlier this week I was sworn in as the 18th Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is my honor and a privilege to join this team, and I look forward to working with all of you in the days, months, and years ahead.
For the past 13 years, I served as a Member of Congress, representing the people of Ohio’s 11th District. Before that, as mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, I saw firsthand the need for economic development and affordable housing.
Throughout my life of public service, my purpose has always been to do the most for those who have the least. These are values I will bring to HUD as we carry out our most fundamental mission – working to ensure that every American has a roof over their head.
Today, in this moment of unprecedented crisis, our mission carries added urgency and purpose. The pandemic has exacerbated our nation’s already severe housing crisis. Tens of millions of Americans are behind on rent; almost 3 million homeowners are currently in forbearance; and another 800,000 borrowers are delinquent. Far too many of our fellow Americans are struggling to make ends meet or simply not making ends meet at all.
Since the beginning of this pandemic, HUD employees have been instrumental in delivering on the housing needs of the American people. Just recently, HUD announced extensions and expansions of COVID-19 homeowner relief and home retention measures, providing meaningful relief to homeowners struggling financially through no fault of their own. Yet much work remains.
We must alleviate this housing crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge.
The work ahead will test us, but I know we are up to the task.
As we confront the pandemic, we will continue the everyday routine business of the Department – everything from providing housing counseling and investigating allegations of housing discrimination, to restoring an evidence-based Housing First approach, to ending homelessness and supporting sustainable economic development in our communities. These responsibilities are at the very center of HUD’s work, and we must always ensure they are met.
Of course, there are longer-term priorities as well.
We must expand resources for HUD's programs to people who are eligible.
We must deliver on the Administration’s commitments on improving the quality, safety, and accessibility of affordable housing and building 1.5 million new affordable homes. This also means that we must deliver relief to struggling small landlords, who are a vital source of affordable housing in many of our cities.
And we must make the dream of homeownership – and the security and wealth creation that comes with it – a reality for more Americans by ending discriminatory practices in the housing market and ensuring that our fair housing rules are doing what they are supposed to do.
In addition, HUD will play a key role in tackling the “convergent crises” identified by President Biden: the crisis of systemic racism and racial inequity, the climate crisis, and the economic crisis, in addition to COVID-19.
After all, the role of housing is not only about having a place to live. It’s also about expanding access to opportunity; building strong, sustainable, equitable, and healthy communities; and improving outcomes for all people, regardless of race, station, or background.
The challenges before us are not beyond our capacity to solve. But it will take a diverse, equitable, and inclusive Department at all levels – a Department that values knowledge and expertise, both lived and professional; transparent communication and accountability; and thoughtful, collaborative leadership. That’s the Department I intend to lead, and always by example. I am eager to hear your thoughts on how we can improve the Department, restore sound management, and rebuild trust. Your ideas and suggestions will always be carefully considered as we drive forward our vital work to increase equitable access to housing for millions of families.
That is why, as soon as is safely possible, I plan to travel to each of our 10 regions.
It’s also why I have asked our team to put together group meetings for me to speak with HUD staff in the coming days. While I won’t be able to meet with everyone right away, rest assured that these meetings will continue in the weeks and months ahead.
I promise you this: the health and safety of HUD’s employees and contractors will always be of paramount importance. HUD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic – both internally and externally – will continue to be driven by data and science, and we will continue to require the correct and consistent wearing of masks and physical distancing within all HUD buildings. There will also be more communication – not just on COVID-19, but on all matters that impact this department.
The Housing Act of 1949 declared that every American deserves a “decent home and a suitable living environment.” Our nation has fallen short of this declaration and, in fact, has a history of imposing barriers to safe, accessible, and affordable housing.
Together we will remove barriers and take meaningful action to solve the housing challenges of all Americans in need. I believe each of you is doing the work you have been called to do. If not, you are in the wrong agency.
Thank you for your service. I look forward to meeting you and to working alongside you as we move forward, together, with resolve, to tackle the tasks of our time and build back better on behalf of the American people.
Always know I am on your side.