HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge testified on May 11 before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) and on May 12 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations’ THUD Subcommittee in support of the Biden administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request for HUD. View a recording of the House hearing here and the Senate hearing here.
In her opening statements for both hearings, Secretary Fudge emphasized HUD’s central role in advancing President Biden’s vision of “building a better America,” noting that the department’s affordable housing and community development programs “grow the economy from the bottom up, and from the middle out.” The secretary lauded HUD’s work keeping families stably housed throughout the pandemic and connecting more than 20,000 people experiencing homelessness with housing, but she also emphasized the persistence of the nation’s affordable housing crisis.
House THUD Subcommittee Chair David Price (D-NC) delivered opening remarks, noting the Subcommittee’s “longstanding, bipartisan commitment to addressing the affordable housing challenges being faced in communities across America.” Chair Price also emphasized the importance of stable housing in advancing broader goals, including in the areas of health, education, and employment: “Housing plays a central role in stabilizing communities, creating pathways to homeownership and wealth. It’s hard to hold on to good health, and to achieve positive educational outcomes, or to reach your economic potential, without a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.”
Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) indicated his commitment to ensuring HUD’s budget includes sufficient funding to renew all existing housing vouchers “to protect our most vulnerable citizens with safe, quality housing.” While the ranking member expressed concern for the rising federal deficit, he emphasized his commitment to working with Secretary Fudge and Chair Price to reach an agreement on the FY23 budget and avoid a long-term continuing resolution, which he noted would “waste time and waste valuable money.”
Committee members expressed excitement about the possibility of permanently authorizing the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, one of NLIHC’s top policy priorities. The “Reforming Disaster Recovery Act,” which would authorize the CDBG-DR program, was introduced in the House by Representative Al Green (D-TX) in July 2021. As Secretary Fudge explained, “we need permanent authorization for CDBG-DR because then [communities] know upfront what they can expect, and [HUD] knows upfront what we can provide without having to delay the process, because [without authorization] we have to come up with a new set of rules every time there’s a disaster.”
Committee members also expressed bipartisan support for Housing First, a proven model for addressing homelessness that prioritizes access to permanent, stable housing and draws on voluntary services as needed. Representative John Rutherford (R-FL) noted that he believes “Housing First is a great idea, but it’s not housing only” and advocated for increased funding to CDBG in the coming fiscal year to provide supportive services for hard-to-house populations. Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA) emphasized that Housing First “has been used by both Republican and Democratic administrations…to address homelessness.” Secretary Fudge underscored the point that Housing First “is not housing only. What we are trying to do is put people in a stable position so that we can bring in the services that they need, because it’s difficult to provide counseling, or rehabilitation services, to somebody that…doesn’t have a home.”
Democrats on the Senate THUD committee expressed similar support for Housing First. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) stated during his remarks that “at the end of the day, the best answer to homelessness is housing, along with wrap-around services.” Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) shared the successes of Housing First in addressing veteran homelessness, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) noted that addressing the crisis of homelessness will require “resources and coordination that state and local authorities need to help people on-the-ground, and [embracing] the Housing First model, which we know is a really successful intervention.”
In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Brian Schatz (D-HI) emphasized the importance of striking a balance between supply and demand in any HUD budget, including the necessity of increasing the supply of affordable housing stock so that households that receive housing vouchers can find safe, decent, affordable homes on which to use their vouchers. Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed in her opening statement similar concerns about the national shortage of affordable housing, which she called “a crisis in many parts of the country, with no state having a truly adequate supply [of affordable housing].”
Ranking Member Collins also questioned Secretary Fudge about the continued availability of funding for HUD programs provided through the “CARES Act” and the “American Rescue Plan Act.” “I’m concerned that HUD and many of its grantees appeared to lack the capacity to manage and oversee the influx of funding provided over the last two years,” said Ranking Member Collins. Secretary Fudge noted that the major challenge in disbursing funding quickly was the limited capacity of communities and on-the-ground partners charged with setting up new programs in the midst of a pandemic. However, the secretary emphasized that because of limited capacity, communities used funds strategically to address the most urgent needs of community members first while creating longer-term plans for using the rest of the funding. Secretary Fudge noted that now that community partners have expanded their capacities and put spending plans in place, “you’re going to see the resources moving out much faster.”
Watch the House THUD Subcommittee hearing at: https://bit.ly/3wKHwJt
Watch the Senate THUD Subcommittee hearing at: https://bit.ly/3wxAMhY
Read Secretary Fudge’s opening statement at: https://bit.ly/3McnttN