Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marcia Fudge sat down for a brief, but wide-ranging interview this week with Axios, which was broadcast on Home Box Office (HBO) and the outlet’s streaming service, HBO Max. In the interview, Secretary Fudge discussed some of the ways her perspective on her job was shaped by housing duties as a mayor in Ohio, as well as priorities of the Department in the near future.
The secretary was also asked about the impending expiration of a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions put in place during the earliest days of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and whether or not she is worried that those expirations will lead to new waves of homelessness for both homeowners and renters.
“I won’t lie to you and say that I’m not worried, I am,” she said. “But, I do believe that the president has put in place the tools to keep that from happening. There’s $46 billion available to assist renters and homeowners who are behind. So, I do believe once those resources come through the pipeline, you will not see the kinds of evictions that people are expecting.”
When asked if banks have served as allies or hindrances for homeowners during the pandemic, Fudge described that the banks HUD works with directly have been allies because of the lessons learned in the past during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, as well as lessons learned during the pandemic.
“I think the banks have figured it out,” she said. “It’s much more costly for them to put somebody out of the house than to find a way to keep them in it. […] COVID drove a lot of it, because we were all put in positions where we had to stop and rethink how we do business.”
Secretary Fudge also addressed the recent directive from HUD to re-commence the enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act’s requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing,” describing more lax Fair Housing Act enforcement as an overall impediment to increasing rates of homeownership among communities of color.
“Part of our problem is that we have never totally enforced the Fair Housing Act,” Fudge said. “That is why we’re doing things like homeownership assistance, why we’re addressing the student loan issue, or we’re looking at how credit is distributed for people of color, especially Black people. Homeownership is wealth. It is not only wealth to us, but it is generational wealth.”
Since people of color and poorer people have a disproportionate share of debt in the United States, addressing debt issues – particularly student debt, which recent estimates have shown seniors are far more exposed to than some may think – has to be a part of the way in which housing issues are addressed, Fudge said.
Read about the Axios interview with Secretary Fudge, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Axios HBO television program available online and through the HBO Max streaming service.