|HUD No. 23-143
HUD Public Affairs
July 17, 2023
HUD Secretary Delivers Remarks at Historic Rainbow PUSH Convention in Chicago, IL
WASHINGTON - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge traveled to Chicago to attend the Rainbow PUSH Convention Opening Forum on July 15, 2023. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC) serves as an international human and civil rights organization that seeks to empower minority groups through effective grassroots advocacy, issue orientation, and connections between the greater community and the disenfranchised. Secretary Fudge made opening remarks at the annual Rainbow PUSH convention, where Speakers and attendees from around the city, the country, and the world came to pay tribute to founder Rev. Jesse Jackson and the impactful work of the Rainbow PUSH Organization.
During the opening ceremony, Secretary Fudge provided remarks concerning the progress of minority communities since the Fair Housing Act was passed, but she also urged that there is still more work to be done. Secretary Marcia Fudge emphasized the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to ending discrimination in housing and addressing the homelessness surge in black and brown communities with urgency.
Remarks of HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge
Rainbow PUSH Annual Convention
July 15, 2023
The definition of PUSH is to exert force on someone or something in order to drive it forward.
Reverend Jackson, for a generation, you have exerted force on the American system in order to drive our nation forward. To move this country away from oppression and toward justice. From segregation to solidarity. Thank you for pushing us. Thank you for paving the way for leaders of today and tomorrow, including me.
I now have the privilege to serve as the 18th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Rev. Jackson, Dr. King, and everyone in the Chicago Freedom Movement laid the foundation for the work our department does every day. Because of the penetrating light that movement shined on injustice within our housing system, I am charged to lead the only federal department responsible for rooting it out. The only agency tasked with ensuring access to the safe and decent housing we all deserve.
Ending discrimination in housing and addressing homelessness with urgency.
It is not lost on me that without Rev. Jackson, there may not be a Fair Housing Act. After the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Jackson stepped in to push our country to secure congressional approval of the act. The Chicago Freedom Movement directly confronted the racist policies that blocked Black families from obtaining desired housing in White neighborhoods, pushed hardworking Black people into sub-standard homes and slums and trapped them in seemingly never-ending cycles of poverty.
Thanks to those efforts, for 55 years, the Fair Housing Act has been the law of the land.
Outlawing housing discrimination because of a person's race, color, national origin, sex including sexual orientation and gender identity, religion, disability, and familial status.
We have come a long way since the days before the Fair Housing Act was passed. We still have so far to go. There is still redlining in America. Black people make up 13% of the population, but nearly 40% of those experiencing homelessness. Black and Brown communities are, too often, still locked out of opportunities to build wealth through homeownership.
People of low means, too often, must raise their families in substandard housing that makes them sick. As Secretary, I am doing everything in my power to show the people of America that we care. I want people who look like us, who grew up like I did, to know that the government can work for them. I want everyone to have the opportunity to create pathways to save money, build wealth, and set a solid foundation for their future and the next generation.
That is why the Biden-Harris Administration works so hard to address the longstanding inequities that are woven into our systems.
Why we are adamant about addressing discrimination when it shows up in the housing market, from rental discrimination to appraisal bias. More than anything, though, this work is personal to me. Growing up, my family didn’t have much but we had a home. It was a place where I felt safe. A place where I knew I could be myself. I want every person in this country to know what that feels like. That is why we have implemented the largest expansion of housing voucher program in history.
Through the American Rescue Plan, we delivered $5 billion in Emergency Housing Vouchers to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness get housing. And we have committed more than $500 million to address unsheltered homelessness. This year alone we have awarded $5.6 billion for community planning & development programs to build neighborhoods and communities that work for all.
Through the Federal Housing Administration, we have introduced changes to how potential homebuyers' rental history is considered, and their student loan debt is calculated so more people can qualify for affordable housing financing. It is estimated that more than 45 percent of first-time homebuyers who obtain a federally insured mortgage have student loan debt. Debt we know disproportionately impacts people of color. Under this Administration, we don’t think taking out a loan to further your education should keep you from building wealth and creating opportunities for yourself and your family. Nor do we believe those who have paid their debt to society should be punished for the rest of their lives. That is why we removed barriers to housing for some of those seeking a second chance to rebuild their lives after involvement with the criminal justice system.
Under this Administration, we are not so naïve that we believe our civil rights laws do not require enforcement. Discrimination is real. Systems that are designed to be biased exist. That is why we strengthened our enforcement of the Fair Housing Act through the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing requirement and the Disparate Impact Rule. Why we have embedded racial equity into our governing framework. And why we are doing all we can to protect tenants and ensure everyone can live in safe, decent housing they can be proud to raise their children in.
Rev. Jackson, Rainbow PUSH—I know that is as important to you as it is to me.
Thank you for holding HUD accountable, especially here in Chicago.
Because of your advocacy, within the first few months of my tenure I was on the far South Side meeting with residents of Concordia Place Apartments and finalizing an agreement to rehabilitate every unit in the complex so people can live with dignity. You gave mothers and grandmothers who felt unheard a megaphone to garner the attention of the powerful and create change. You challenged us to do better for those who are too often left behind and left out, just as you have your entire life. Just as you did 35 years ago when you dared our nation to all we can for all who call this country home. To feed the poor, house the homeless, protect the vulnerable. Even in defeat, you had the foresight to “keep hope alive.” You knew America could and would get better and better. Reverend, you have done your part to help us get there. You have run your leg of the race. It is on all of us to carry the baton of hope. To exert the force necessary to drive our nation forward.
It’s our turn to push. Thank you.