|HUD No. 23-215
HUD Public Affairs
September 26, 2023
HUD Secretary Delivers Remarks at Louisiana Housing Conference in Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE - On Tuesday, September 26th, Marcia L. Fudge, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), traveled to Baton Rouge, LA, to attend the Louisiana Housing Conference: Building Pathways, Partnership, and Possibilities for Affordable Housing.
The conference was hosted by the Louisiana Housing Corporation, a state government agency committed to ensuring every Louisianan is granted an opportunity to obtain safe, affordable and energy-efficient housing. Secretary Fudge provided remarks at a plenary session entitled “The Future of Affordable Housing from a Federal Perspective.”
Below are Secretary Fudge’s remarks, as delivered:
Thank you for that gracious introduction.
It’s hard to follow Congressman Carter in Louisiana, but it is nice to join my friend here. Congressman, thank you for being a strong champion for the people of this state.
My thanks as well to Joshua Hollins, for your leadership at the Louisiana Housing Corporation, and to all those who played a hand in bringing this stellar conference together.
There are a lot of people here I know and respect, so I could easily spend my entire speech giving shout outs. But, I do want to acknowledge: Mayor Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Former Congressman Cedric Richmond, Mayor Nicholas Hunter of Lake Charles.
Thank you for all you do.
Your theme this year is “Building Pathways, Partnership, and Possibilities for Affordable Housing.”
The Bible says, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to break down, and a time to build up.”
This is our time to build up.
To build pathways to success for everyone who calls this country home.
To build partnership, because we can do far more together than we ever could alone.
To be inspired by what’s possible, not deterred by the way things have been.
President Biden came to office ready to turn the page. Ready to seize this moment to build our country up.
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, 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've gotten industry leaders to be more transparent about junk fees in the rental market, so people can know where their hard-earned money is going before they rent an apartment.
We are replacing lead pipes, cleaning up superfund sites, and helping landowners, who have historically been shut out access USDA programs.
Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re taking the boldest steps ever to address the climate crisis.
Every day, HUD is focused on helping people access and stay in housing they can afford.
There is a crisis in affordable housing across the country, including here in Louisiana.
For every 100 extremely low-income families here, there are an estimated 39 housing units available.
A person working a minimum wage job would have to work 89 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent here.
Because of climate change, natural disasters are coming more frequently and getting stronger. We know extreme weather tests the limits of your infrastructure, leaving homes and families more and more vulnerable.
In Louisiana and across the country, families are seeing their property insurance costs jump dramatically or are losing coverage altogether.
Rising insurance costs also strain the production of much-needed affordable housing, frustrating our goal of ensuring every family in America has a safe place to call home.
High housing costs paired with limited supply puts more and more families at risk of homelessness.
Your needs are complex, which is why you need partners who are committed to building pathways to possibility.
From Day One of this Administration, HUD has been that partner.
In 2022, our agency allocated more than $1 Billion to the state and local governments to support the long-term recovery from Hurricane Ida and severe floods.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of traveling to New Orleans to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Governor, Congressman Carter, and the city’s Mayor to announce the closure of the Road Home Program.
We were joined by a family who had been $30,000 in debt under Road Home.
We lifted the crushing weight of that debt from their shoulders, giving them the flexibility to plan for their future in ways that didn’t seem possible before, like sending their nephew to college.
Just this summer, HUD awarded the city of Lake Charles a $40 million grant under the Choice Neighborhoods Program.
The city plans to leverage our funds with an additional $200 million in investments to revitalize housing that has seen better days and create new opportunities for residents.
Together, we can create pathways to possibility for affordable housing.
We can make it so more people can become homeowners and generate wealth.
This is our time to build up.
That is why we have made $85 million available to local governments that are removing barriers like outdated zoning laws and finding ways to produce more housing.
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.
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 principles of racial equity.
We do this because we are inspired by what’s possible.
Inspired by the vision of a country where people can live in safe, affordable homes in the communities of their choice.
Inspired to live in a nation where young families can purchase homes of their own, if they want, and create pathways to wealth building.
Young people like the educator I met in Seattle who recently bought his first home so his son can have a brighter future.
Inspired by leaders like all of you gathered here. Leaders who care deeply about delivering safe, affordable, and quality housing.
Who care about making sure no one feels forced to sleep on the streets or under a park bench.
This is our time to build up.
Let’s work together to build opportunity for those who have been left behind and left out.
Build housing and preserve the homes we have.
Build pathways to homeownership for all.
Let’s build on what we’ve done over the past two years so we can leave the world better than we found it.
We owe that to ourselves.
We owe that to our children.
And we owe that to this country we love.