The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on July 20 titled, “Building Back a Better, More Equitable Housing Infrastructure for America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge served as the hearing’s sole witness, her first hearing before the committee as secretary. In her opening testimony, Secretary Fudge stated, “The president’s 2022 budget is just one part of his commitment to make generational investments into America’s housing. In addition to the vital support contained in this budget, the president has called for sweeping new housing investments through his ‘Build Back America’ agenda. These investments would help build or restore more than two million affordable homes. The ‘Build Back Better’ agenda would help more families of modest means realize the dream of homeownership, expand the supply of affordable rental housing, and help revitalize our public housing stock.” The president’s FY22 budget requests $68.7 billion for HUD, a 15% increase over FY21 appropriated levels.
Some Republican members of the committee addressed the administration’s delays in distributing emergency rental assistance (ERA) to tenants and landlords. Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) questioned Secretary Fudge about the reasons for these delays and why Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was not present at today’s hearing. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) noted that Secretary Yellen was neither required nor asked to attend the hearing. Chairwoman Waters reminded the committee that Secretary Yellen will be required to attend later in the year with an update on ERA disbursements. Secretary Fudge corrected Ranking Member McHenry’s remarks, stating that not only is ERA largely Treasury’s responsibility rather than HUD’s, but also that allocations to states and localities have already been made. She went on to say that it is now the responsibility of the state and localities to disburse the money to tenants and landlords and that delays in doing so are not coming from HUD.
Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) spoke about the importance of prioritizing public housing capital repairs. Representative Meeks stated such investment is necessary “so that individuals can live in decent apartments, in a timely fashion, which they can afford.” Secretary Fudge maintained that repairs to public housing are a matter of great importance to HUD. One of NLIHC’s top policy priorities is to provide significant funding to address the capital repair backlog in public housing.
Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC), Cynthia Axne (D-IA), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) emphasized the need to expand emergency rental assistance vouchers. In response to expanding vouchers, Secretary Fudge stated that the focus needs to be on expanding the affordable housing supply first, so there are more opportunities for people with vouchers to find housing. Representatives Axne and Ocasio-Cortez stressed the need to hold state and local governments accountable for emergency rental assistance funds not reaching landlords and tenants. Expanding the supply of rental homes, vouchers, and rental assistance is a major priority of NLHC for the infrastructure package.
View the full hearing at: https://tinyurl.com/5cw8j5ub
Read Secretary Fudge’s opening testimony at: https://tinyurl.com/55ydckh9
See NLIHC’s analysis of President Biden’s FY22 budget request for housing at: https://tinyurl.com/na7dv97m