President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a new bipartisan spending deal into law, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package which includes additional funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) along with aid for Ukraine in the midst of its invasion by the Russian military; additional funding for law enforcement; reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; and additional money for the nation’s response to the opioid epidemic.
The additional allocation for HUD was applauded by Secretary Marcia Fudge, who said it will provide support for many of the Department’s critical housing services.
The housing portion of the full bill (which sits at 2,741 pages) is generally small in comparison with other major provisions, but will provide for HUD a new path forward in the wake of recent difficulties the Department is facing.
“The bipartisan spending agreement increases HUD funding, providing our department with robust resources to advance key housing and community development priorities for America’s families and communities,” Secretary Fudge said in a statement after the president signed the measure into law.
For HUD, the new spending package will expand the availability of housing choice vouchers to additional low-income families and individuals; will reinforce housing assistance for certain vulnerable households; and makes investments in the bolstering of housing supply, Fudge says.
“It provides funding to improve the energy efficiency of housing and increase resilience to climate impacts,” she adds. “The agreement also provides record-level funding for lead hazard reduction and Healthy Homes grants, increasing the safety of families and children in their own homes and advancing environmental justice. Having a safe, affordable home is foundational to life, and the agreement will expand opportunity for households through homeownership and rental assistance, while supporting strong, healthy, and economically vibrant communities.”
HUD has been experiencing staff shortages for years, which have been even stronger for much of the past 18 months since President Biden was inaugurated. While certain vacancies have been filled, FHA remains without a commissioner nearly 14 months into the four-year term of the Biden administration, and ongoing questions persist internally regarding the competitiveness of wages, a long qualification process for new hires and a forthcoming influx of retirements based on the age of current staffers.
Secretary Fudge last year spoke about the difficulties at HUD, describing that the president was aware of the situation.
“We are thousands of people short of where we ought to be,” Secretary Fudge said in March 2021 at the White House. “Our staff is outstanding: they are under-resourced, understaffed and overworked. But, we are going to make some major changes, and very quickly. The [American] Rescue Plan is allowing us to do things that we may not have been able to do without it. So, I’m especially pleased that the president had the foresight and the vision to give us a historic, maybe one-time opportunity to change what is going on in housing in this country.”