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HUD No. 23-203
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685
September 18, 2023

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge Delivers Remarks at Columbia, SC Branch NAACP 36th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Gala

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge attended and provided remarks at the Columbia, South Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 36th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Gala.

Secretary Fudge’s remarks, as delivered at the NAACP 36th Annual Freedom Fund Awards Gala:

The Biden-Harris Administration is doing the work.

President Biden came to office ready to turn the page. He knew we could do better than a trickle-down economy where the wealthy and corporations got massive tax cuts, while the middle class got hollowed out.

He knew we could do better than a country where entire communities were stripped of dignity and hope.

In the past two years, we have created 13 million jobs and brought unemployment below 4%.

This Administration is working to reverse decades of divestment in communities across the South.

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Jim, everyone in America will be connected to reliable, affordable high-speed internet by the end of the decade.

We have made it so millions of Americans can get free or subsidized internet access and discounted devices through the Affordable Connectivity Program.

We are replacing lead pipes, cleaning up superfund sites, and helping landowners, who have historically been shut out access USDA programs.

We’re cutting out junk fees so people’s hard-earned money can go towards an actual good or service, not a company looking to skim off the top.

At HUD, we are focused on helping people access and stay in housing they can afford.

Across the country, too many people spend more than half of their monthly income on rent.

South Carolina has quickly become home to some of the most expensive cities in the country.

If you work a minimum wage job in Columbia, you would have to work an estimated 103 hours per week in order to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

One of the main reasons costs are so high is the fact that we don’t have enough housing.

So, at HUD, we have made $85 million available to local governments that are removing barriers like outdated zoning laws and creating pathways to more housing production.

Earlier this month, we released our 2024 Fair Market rents. To keep up with rising prices, they have increased by about 12 percent nationally.

Right here in Columbia, Fair Market rent has gone up by 11%. I hope this change will allow more residents to find affordable housing that meets their needs.

To preserve the housing we have, especially our critical public housing stock, we have strengthened our inspection standards, so people don’t have to fight infestation or battle mold in their homes.

At HUD, we also know that those who would benefit most from owning a home are often the least likely to access the market.

That is why, through the Federal Housing Administration, we have introduced changes to how student loan debt is calculated so more people can qualify for affordable housing financing.

We have made it so positive rental history can help determine person’s creditworthiness when they’re seeking a FHA-insured mortgage.

We are working with local and national organizations to expand access to housing counseling, so people can feel supported and prepared to take steps toward buying a home.

This is what it looks like to do the work.

The Biden-Harris Administration is not afraid to call out discrimination and take steps to eliminate it.

We are removing barriers to housing for those who have paid their debt to society. We are enforcing our nation’s fair housing laws. We have rooted our work in the principle of racial equity.

We do this work because we know what is at stake.

So when someone asks what the Biden-Harris Administration has done for the Black community and other communities of color…

Tell them we have delivered:

Historic levels of support for HBCUS-nearly $6 Billion

Helped millions of families stay in their homes, cut childhood poverty in half, and expanded access to public benefits during a global pandemic

Criminal justice reforms to ban chokeholds and support returning citizens—run and tell that.

Nominated more Black and Brown people and women have been to the federal bench than all other President’s combined, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson —run and tell that.

Expanded Health Care coverage, capped insulin at $35 for Medicare, and lowered prescription drug costs —run and tell that.

Increased contracts with Black and Brown business owners in the federal procurement process – to the tune of $100 Million – tell them that.

Taken the boldest steps ever to address the climate crisis and confront environmental injustice —run and tell that.

Established a National Monument honoring Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley —run and tell that.

Holding the appraisal industry accountable to make sure Black and Brown people aren’t losing money when they get their homes appraised (PAVE) —run and tell that.;

Confronting housing discrimination and redlining (AFFH, Disparate Impact Rule) —run and tell that.

When someone asks you what the Biden Harris Administration has done for Black people, you run and tell that.

NAACP, we have been called, compelled, and committed to serve the people of this nation.

We have not forgotten that our ancestors sacrificed and survived so we could live a better life.

We are the descendants of the ones they could not kill and the ones who refused to die.

We have been called, committed, and compelled to serve in a way that honors their legacy.

We are the descendants of survivors.

People who refused to settle for what was, and instead fought for what should be.

That fight is not finished. It is on us to pick up the load they carried for so long.

Fight for freedom. For justice. For equality.

So your children and your children’s children can leave the world better than we found it.

Since I love poetry and I love pros, as I prepare to take my seat, I want to leave you with the words of Langston Hughes, Williams Cullen Bryant, Martin Luther King Jr., Amanda Gorman, McFadden and Whitehead…

Just keep climbing!

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair but I keep climbing.

Keep dreaming. When dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.

Because even though we hurt, we hoped. Even as we grew tired, we tried.

Tell people that we are the real patriots of this nation. That we too, sing America!

Tell them, that no lie lasts forever. That truth, pressed to earth, will rise again.

We gon’ move on up a little higher. Get out of my way cuz’ ain’t no stopping us now… we on the move!

I said I wouldn’t tell nobody, but I couldn’t keep it to myself…

I said I wouldn’t tell nobody, but I couldn’t keep it to myself… and now that I have told you what we are doing… I need you to do one thing for me…and that’s run and tell that!


HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
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