Just Economy Conference – May 3, 2021
Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
I’m honored to join every distinguished speaker at this conference, including chair Jerome Powell, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and my friend, Senator Sherrod Brown from the great state of Ohio. Thanks as well to every person tuning in for all you do to help forge a stronger and fairer economy, where every American has the opportunity to thrive. Today, as our nation recovers from the COVID pandemic, the importance of creating a more just economy has taken on new urgency. Fortunately, we have a leader in the White House, who recognizes the enormity of this moment. Last week marked Joe Biden’s first 100 days as President. During his first few months in office, his administration has taken bold steps to help America build back better than ever before. We’ve now delivered more than 200 million vaccine doses to the American public. Furthermore, the president championed passage of the American rescue plan. This landmark law provided relief checks to nearly 160 million households, along with sweeping support for those in greatest need. This includes critical aid for people struggling to pay for housing as a result of the pandemic. The rescue plan will deliver nearly $22 billion in emergency rental assistance, and $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. In addition, it will provide $5 billion for people who are homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness. I’m proud to say that I cast my final vote as a member of Congress to help pass the American rescue plan. Now as the 18th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, I have the great honor of helping to ensure its funding reaches those who need it. The President understands that helping families whether this crisis is only one part of the task before us. Moving forward. We have the added responsibility and the great opportunity to build a stronger economy and a fairer society for all Americans. A key part of the President’s commitment is expanding our supply of affordable housing. That is why he has introduced a historic new infrastructure bill called the American jobs plan. It underscores a fundamental truth that housing represents a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure. Secure and stable homes serve as bedrock cornerstones for our society. Just like our roads, our bridges and our public utilities. The President’s bill offers nearly $20 billion in new tax credits through the neighborhood homes investment initiative. During the next decade, these credits can help build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 single family homes for buyers of more modest means. This in turn can create a pathway to homeownership for more Americans, allowing them to build a source of wealth they can leave behind for their children and their grandchildren. On top of these new tax credits, the American jobs plan contains investments that would help produce, preserve and upgrade more than 1 million energy efficient rental homes. All told, the President’s bill would lay the foundation for decades of economic growth by putting millions of Americans to work with good paying jobs, and by revitalizing communities in every corner of our country. That is why as HUD Secretary, I will do everything in my power to help champion its passage. Finally, the Biden Harris administration is determined to enact an agenda centered around equity and equality. During the President’s first week in office, he directed our department to explore solutions for rooting out systemic racism from our housing market. And that is exactly what we will do. As HUD Secretary, I will make fair housing enforcement a central priority. The reality is that people of color continue to face discrimination in our housing market. When trying to read homes to secure loans, and to move into neighborhoods where their families can thrive. It is long past the time for our country to fully realize the promise of the Fair Housing Act. This means we must have an effective disparate impact rule that breaks it down on just barriers facing people of color. In addition, I’m happy to report that we are taking steps to affirmatively further fair housing, and I look forward to sharing more news about these steps in the near future.
When I consider the missions before us, I am reminded of the story of Nehemiah, who was moved by God to restore the walls of Jerusalem after they were destroyed by Babylon. Throughout that process, the enemies of Israel schemed constantly to thwart his progress, as Nehemiah built the wall. Higher and higher. They call on Him to cease his work to come down and address their grievances. Yet Nehemiah would not bow to their demands. Instead he told them, I am doing a great work so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease? whilst I leave it and come down to you? Today, I tell you that HUD is engaged in a great work. Our great work is to give every American a fair chance of securing a safe, affordable and dignified place to call home and to live in a thriving community where opportunity is abundant, like Nehemiah, we will work without fail to accomplish the task at hand. We will not be distracted, we will not be dissuaded. And we will not be denied by the enemies of progress. We will carry out our great work on behalf of the American people. I know everyone joining this conference shares the President’s commitment to forge a just economy that works in favor of all Americans. HUD is proud to serve as your ally and your partner in this calls, and I look forward to the great work we will accomplish together. Thank you very much and have a wonderful conference.