Ending housing discrimination
Putting a stop to housing discrimination is another focal point for Rep. Fudge, who mentioned redlining, the racial wealth gap, and other systemic problems in her hearing. According to Fudge herself, "We need to make the dream of homeownership -- and the security and wealth creation that comes with it -- a reality for more Americans. That will require us to end discriminatory practices in the housing market and ensure that our fair housing rules are doing what they are supposed to do: opening the door for families, especially families of color who have been systematically kept out in the cold across generations, to buy homes and punch their ticket to the middle class."
HUD has already made inroads on this goal since President Biden took office. On Thursday, the agency announced it would expand the Fair Housing Act to cover gender identity and sexual orientation -- two classes previously unprotected under the law. Complaints regarding gender identity- or sexual orientation-related housing discrimination are now being investigated back to Jan. 20, 2020.
Making homeownership more affordable
Down payments are the single-biggest hurdle for Black homebuyers, according to Fudge. To combat this, she has suggested down payment assistance programs for buyers in previously redlined neighborhoods. Offering such a program would help level the playing field, according to Fudge. The current situation, as she put it, is "like us being in a race with people who already have a head start."
President Biden has proposed a more broad version of this down payment assistance idea himself. The plan would offer first-time homebuyers an advanceable $15,000 tax credit they could use toward a down payment or closing costs.
Improving housing assistance programs
Increasing access to HUD's assistance programs, which include Section 8 housing vouchers, is another top-tier priority for Fudge. According to her hearing testimony, 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments.
Fudge is also set on boosting affordable housing supply across the nation, saying, "We need to deliver on the Administration's commitments on improving the quality, safety, and accessibility of affordable housing and building 1.5 million new affordable homes."
Fudge also mentioned other challenges she'd like to address if confirmed as secretary, including homelessness, energy efficiency, and lead-based paint.
"These are only some of the challenges -- I know that many of you have additional priorities as well," she told the committee. "These problems are urgent, but they are not beyond our capacity to solve.
The bottom line
Rep. Fudge still has to go before the full Senate, but if confirmed, investors should gear up for changes. There will likely be additional rent and mortgage relief efforts, as well as changes to assistance programs and fair housing practices. Stay tuned to Millionacres for all the latest.