Housing Field Reacts to Marcia Fudge HUD Nomination

Surprise, frustration, and optimism mingle in response to left-field choice.

2 minute read

December 24, 2020, 8:00 AM PST

By LM_Ortiz

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

In an unexpected move, the Biden transition team tapped Rep. Marcia Fudge to be the next HUD Secretary. Fudge represents the 11th District in Ohio, which includes much of Cleveland.

Fudge had lobbied for the Secretary of Agriculture position, and last month told Politico that  it was too bad Black cabinet picks tended to be relegated to Labor or HUD. However, Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of Agriculture under President Obama, will return to that role, and Fudge has said she would be willing to step into whatever role she is needed for, even telling the Cleveland Plain Dealer that HUD was actually her “close second” pick.

Fudge has little experience with housing policy or housing-related Congressional committees and has not made it an explicit top priority of her time in office. In her interview with the Plain Dealer she appeared hard-pressed to name specifics of what has happened recently at HUD, good or bad. She has, however, focused on addressing issues of poverty, hunger, civil rights, and health, and housing advocates who have worked with her in Ohio say that they believe she understands how housing stability and affordability fits into that picture.

There are two strains of reaction to Fudge’s nomination in the housing world. One is a feeling that the choice by Biden of someone with little experience who clearly preferred another role reflects that he does not take housing policy as seriously as was hoped and that qualifications are taking a back seat to other considerations in the cabinet process (and those other considerations are not representation, since putting Fudge, a Black woman, at Ag would not have prevented his putting a qualified leader of color at HUD as well). 

The choice is “breathtaking in its complete dismissal of urban issues and housing issues—given what we’re about to face” in terms of the mounting eviction and foreclosure dangers of the pandemic says James DeFilippis, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University who has worked in the nonprofit housing sector and follows housing policy closely. “And it’s unfair to her, who by all accounts is a very thoughtful member of Congress.”


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