By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

In an exclusive interview conducted by Greer Marshall, broadcast producer of “Let It Be Known,” the National Newspaper Publisher Association’s (NNPA) morning news show, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia L. Fudge, discussed the transformative impact that the Biden-Harris administration’s policies have had on homeownership and affordable housing for Black families.

Marshall and Fudge discussed several issues that are vital to Black Americans who find themselves at a crossroads as they endure the real and disproportionate negative impact of the nation’s current state of housing.

Even in today’s robust economy — or perhaps because of it — many African Americans struggle with finding and securing affordable housing, especially those who live in large cities.

While still historically low, interest rates have combined with shrinking availability and heightened competition to make homeownership elusive for many who could have easily acquired a new home and kept up with the related mortgage payments less than a decade ago.

However, according to Fudge, the administration’s policies and actions can mitigate some challenges renters and homeowners face. One initiative is The Road Home, a suite of programs and services that helps families and individuals move into housing and focus on short-term solutions that lead to long-term stability.

Fudge discussed The Road Home while outlining various programs and resources available through HUD, stating, “These initiatives aim to assist with housing opportunities and community development for Black residents, all while balancing environmental justice concerns with improving Black homeownership and housing conditions.”

The programs include Housing navigation, veteran services, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, investments in short-term residences for the unhoused, and landlord programs (partial listing).

Elaborating on initiatives aimed at providing emergency rental assistance and addressing homelessness among people of color, Fudge said, “The discontinuation of the Road Home Program and intentional changes in underwriting at HUD and FHA signify a crucial shift, empowering Black and brown individuals on their path to homeownership.”

The PAVE (Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity) taskforce is part of the administration’s plan to help overcome fair housing and homeownership challenges that disproportionately affect people of color. “Through the PAVE task force, we are committed to addressing appraisal bias and taking decisive legal action against appraisers who undervalue properties,” emphasized Fudge.

Before her term as the nation’s top housing official, while she was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, Fudge was passionate about addressing persistent challenges with fair and affordable housing and homeownership within Black communities. As a key member of the Biden-Harris cabinet, Fudge continues to champion policies and solutions that will address the underlying cultural, economic, and societal behaviors that sustain those challenges.

“Our administration is resolute in combating appraisal bias and fostering generational wealth building,” said Fudge. As an action item, she pledged to “… actively promote HUD programs for self-sufficiency, wealth building, and assistance in core communities for Black residents.”

Responding to questions about strategies for promoting generational wealth building and housing opportunities within Black communities, Fudge highlighted urban revitalization programs. “These initiatives breathe new life into urban areas, offering housing opportunities and fostering community development for Black residents.” Additionally, Fudge underscored the administration’s delicate balance between addressing environmental justice concerns and enhancing Black homeownership and housing conditions.

A key challenge in the successful implementation of any program is getting the word out so that beneficiaries know what resources are available to them and how they can access them. Fudge asserted that as the Black Press of America, media companies that comprise the NNPA are seen by the Biden-Harris administration as critical in the discussion on policies addressing Black families’ home ownership and affordable housing. “The Black Press of America will play a crucial role in disseminating information about HUD programs and resources to their audience,” notes Fudge.

According to a recent statement from the White House, “Recent data show that inflation in rental markets is decelerating and more apartments are on track to be built this year than any year on record. The Administration’s actions directly lead to the creation of tens of thousands of affordable housing units.” The administration’s  Housing Supply Action Plan sites “an economy where everyone has access to a safe and affordable home.”

When asked to list some of the targeted urban revitalization programs this administration has implemented to enhance housing opportunities and community development for Black residents, Fudge explained, “Our commitment to urban revitalization programs is about breathing new life into urban areas, providing housing opportunities, and fostering community development for Black residents.”

Fudge has said that her real goal in her current role is to give people hope and belief that she and her team at HUD, with the support of the Biden-Harris administration, can make their lives better. On behalf of its millions of readers, viewers, and listeners, the Black Press of America remains committed to doing all it can to help Secretary Fudge’s goal become a reality.