HUD Secretary Fudge Testimony Before Senate Appropriations Committee on American Jobs Plan
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge today testified at the Senate Appropriations Committee’s hearing on “The American Jobs Plan: Infrastructure, Climate Change, and Investing in Our Nation’s Future.” Secretary Fudge’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Chairman Leahy, Vice Chairman Shelby, and the distinguished members of the Senate Appropriations Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to appear alongside Secretary Buttigieg, Secretary Raimondo, and Administrator Regan to discuss President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
Before I begin my testimony, I would like to take a moment to express my condolences at the passing of former Vice President Walter Mondale, a former member of this body who championed the 1968 Fair Housing Act. HUD will honor his legacy by redoubling our efforts to use housing as a platform that advances equality and opportunity for the American people-efforts which include the plan we are here to discuss.
The American Jobs Plan lays the foundations for decades of economic growth and reflects what I believe are fundamental truths: that the definition of infrastructure has evolved-and that, indeed, housing is infrastructure.
As a member of Congress for nearly 13 years, I have the highest regard for this institution. I am committed-as I know this Administration is committed-to working with Congress to create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and help America become more competitive on the global stage.
To do so, we must first take care of home-in the most literal sense. The American Jobs Plan would achieve this goal by prioritizing efforts to address our nation’s severe shortage of affordable housing.
Even before COVID-19, almost 11 million Americans were paying more than half their income on rent. Since then, the pandemic has put low-income households-and communities of color-at disproportionate risk of losing their homes.
The American Jobs Plan confronts the affordable housing crisis head on. It invests $213 billion to produce, preserve, and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live. This includes more than one million resilient, accessible, and energy-efficient rental homes.
In addition, the plan includes a new federal tax credit-as proposed in the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act-that could lead to the construction and renovation of approximately 500,000 single-family homes over the next decade.
At the same time, the American Jobs Plan recognizes investments alone won’t solve the affordable housing crisis. In addition, we must eliminate barriers to producing affordable housing and expanding housing choices for people with low or moderate incomes.
To solve this problem, the American Jobs Plan calls for an approach that awards flexible funding to local jurisdictions that take steps to eliminate regulations like minimum lot size or mandatory parking requirements. These types of regulations drive up the cost of producing affordable housing and can lock people out of neighborhoods with greater opportunity.
Furthermore, the American Jobs Plan addresses longstanding public housing capital needs. Nearly 2 million people live in public housing-including families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Housing quality plays a key role in the health of our families and communities. Yet nearly half of our public housing inventory is more than 50 years old. This means buildings may have hazards like mold or lead paint that can be expensive to remediate.
The American Jobs Plan calls for an investment of $40 billion to improve our public housing infrastructure. This is not just a safety issue but a racial justice issue-as more than one million people of color live in public housing. Furthermore, investments in public housing that help reduce energy use, increase resilience, or fortify against extreme weather can mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Finally, I would like to mention two other major investments in the American Jobs Plan. They are a $111 billion investment to replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines-and a historic $100 billion investment to bring affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American.
These investments are critical to building safer, stronger, and more connected communities.
The American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-century investment in America’s infrastructure that will advance how we live for generations to come. It recognizes that, to build our economy and our country back better than before, we need to invest not just in our roads and bridges-but in housing, in clean drinking water, and in a modernized electrical grid that can withstand the impacts of climate change.
To put it simply: The American Jobs Plan advances physical infrastructure that lays the foundation for human infrastructure. Our country cannot afford to look backward at what we once viewed as the definition of infrastructure. The future of our great nation rests on the decisions we make today.
On behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.