NCRC Just Economy Conference 2023 — Recorded March 30, 2023
HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge addressed a record crowd on day two of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s 2023 Just Economy Conference.
Speaker: Marcia L. Fudge, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
Thank you, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
I was very, very pleasantly surprised to find out that your board chair is from Cleveland, Ohio. So that made my day today. So it’s a good day. I want to thank you for having me. Of course. I want to thank you president and CEO, Jesse Van Tol and your entire board. I have to recognize a couple of people very, very quickly. One is Herschel Daniels. I went to school with Herschel Daniels. He was in Cleveland, then at Herschel if you’re there, good morning to you. Denise Gilmore, my very longtime friend, who was here from Baltimore, Denise. And of course, Jen Jones, who was my Chief of Staff, I know that you will miss her. And she has prepared me for it this morning. So anything I say you don’t like you blame Jen Jones.
I know that you’re going to be hearing from a stellar group of people this morning, including some of my colleagues from Treasury and Commerce and some of my former colleagues in Congress, including Chair Waters, it’s my understanding. I’m sure everyone who sees this crowd is going to be happy, because I am happy to know that you worked so very hard, whether it be in the private sector, in the public sector, within communities, and to close racial wealth gap and combat inequity. That is the work that we do every day. NCRC for more than 30 years, you have worked to reverse the impact of redlining, which we know does still exist today, unfortunately, and to make sure in this country that no matter your background, you can have a good life.
You have worked to end discrimination in lending and to create an economy that works for all, an economy that is just. We still have a lot of work to do to get there. But the President believes as do I that having access to good housing is the key to having a good life. Quality, Affordable housing is critical to strong and thriving communities. So when we talk about creating an economy that is just we must start with housing. A just economy means no one in this country has to sleep on the street or under a park bench.
A just economy means that no one adjust economy means that every person in America has access to housing they can afford in neighborhoods of their choice housing that a safe housing, they feel proud to raise their children in adjust economy means if someone wants to buy a home, they can do so without being judged unfairly. By having student loans instead of having a trust fund. A just economy means if someone is going to rent a home, they can do so whether they have money in the bank or housing voucher. It means someone reentering society after serving their time can get a true second chance and a place to call home.
The Biden-Harris administration is working to build an economy that recognizes what all of us gathered here today know when we invest in housing, we invest in people. When we directly confront discrimination, bias and inequity, we make space for all people to thrive no matter their station in life. Building an economy that works for all drives us as an administration. And we’re glad to have partners like you, people in our communities that are helping us get there. I have spent my entire career working to make things better for people who need me, people who I grew up with.
When I was growing up, I didn’t even know that we were poor. Because the one thing I had was a home. I had a place where I could go and feel safe and feel supported and feel loved. Now that house was full of a whole lot of people. Because if you grew up like I grew up, we had this big two family house right. So on one side was my great grandparents, my aunt uncle, their six kids, my grandmother’s brother, and whoever moved from the south. On our side, it was my grandparents. My mother, my brother and I my aunt and her three kids and whoever else moved from the south. That is how we lived and it was normal to me.
I always felt that if I worked hard, and believed I could do what I could be whatever I want it to be. Every single child in this country deserves to grow up like I grew up. And that is my goal to make sure that they do because so many of the people that that we represent, and I talk about children in the vein that they are all My children, many of them, most of them, were born behind the starting line of life. And we need to help them catch up.
We can’t continue to look at children and say, oh, you know, it’s too bad. No, we need to do something. And that is what we’re here to do. We know that the government can help create pathways to wealth building to set a solid foundation for the future for the next generation. I do this work, because I understand that as Dorothy Height once said, and I knew Dorothy quite well, we are not problem people. We are people with problems. And it is the government’s job to help us solve them.
So I’m going to do my job to help us solve them. During the pandemic, homeownership became a reality for more black Asian and Latino people than ever before, mind you during the pandemic. Yet that process does not negate the real challenges we are facing in the housing market, especially as it relates to affordability and supply. Housing is less affordable today than it has been at any point in modern history. For decades, our nation’s demand for homes is far outpaced our supply, which drives up costs. high interest rates have discouraged me from entering the market. And we have a market that is being controlled in many ways by private equity. We have to stop letting people come in and buy up on what neighborhoods.
At HUD, we will not let those challenges deter us from our goal of expanding homeownership opportunities for historically marginalized communities. In fact, we are even more determined to ensure communities of color. And people of modest means have equitable access to homeownership. And to make sure that when they go to sell their homes or refinance, they aren’t low balled by an unjust system just because they are black or brown, or live on the other side of the tracks. That is why we continue to amplify access to housing counseling. So everyday people can get trustworthy advice on buying a home, or planning their financial future or keeping their housing stable. And we have taken several steps to make sure affordable housing financing is more accessible, especially for people of color and first time homebuyers through the Federal Housing Administration.
We know that if you can pay your mortgage. I mean, we know that if you can pay your rent in full and on time, you can likely pay a mortgage. What we know yes, that is correct. We know that you can pay it. But what we have done is we have changed our underwriting policies to allow lenders to use positive rental history and its evaluation of credit worthiness. So you know, they’ll say you don’t have any credit. Yes, you do. You pay your rent on time you are credit worthy with us now.
It is estimated that more than 45% of our first time homebuyers, come to us with student loan debt debt, as we know disproportionately impacts people of color. So we have punished people who have tried to make their lives better by going to school will ask them to stop that is stopping now. We have recalibrated how student loan debt is calculated, so that it is not the kind of burden that it has always been if you are seeking an FHA mortgage. In February, we announced a reduction in the annual mortgage insurance paying premiums. It charges so that the average the average buyer can save at least $800 a year on their mortgage, which will make it easier for first time homebuyers to get a mortgage.
We’ve also decided to level the playing field with downpayment assistance. We know downpayment is one of the biggest impediments of buying a home today. So we know that being able to afford that mortgage often is not what keeps people from entering the market. It’s the downpayment. That is why in the President’s 2022 budget, he is requesting $10 billion for first generation downpayment assistance program, and added an additional 100 million to the existing downpayment assistance programs. The President’s budget includes $85 million for a competitive grant program to reward states and local and regional jurisdictions that make progress in removing barriers to affordable housing. The exclusionary zoning in many, many of our cities is keeping us from building the kind of housing we need to build because as liberal, as many of my friends are, they still don’t want us in their backyard. We are coming. But we are coming.
So we want to make sure that we also look at an appraisal system that is fair, and addresses the bias that we have in the system. So we are doing everything we know how to do to make affordable housing in reach for most people in this country. And we take our work seriously. Just last week, we awarded $54 million to fair housing organizations across the country that are working to address violations of the Fair Housing Act.
I’m a recovering lawyer, and I believe in the law. Fair Housing is the law of the land. We have reinstated and restored the disparate impact rule. And we are currently have a rule ought to have we afforded a proposed rule on affirmative, affirmative ly furthering fair housing. I hope that you will make some comment the comment period ends on April 10 NCRC, our nation is at an inflection point. We need you to join us as we work to build adjust economy over the past two years, President Biden and Vice President Harris and the congressional leaders have given us a glimpse of what is possible when we put people first, when we work to intentionally build an economy that is just and we will not stop. That is why this administration calls on Congress to fully fund HUDs request as part of the President’s budget.
As President Biden said in his State of the Union address, we are writing the next chapter in the American story. In this chapter, we are focused on what is possible, there is nothing we cannot do. What we need is the will to do it. It is said that a French historian many years ago named Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to try to determine what made America great. He went to institutions of higher learning, he went to, to see the oceans in the mountains, and he did everything he could figure out to do, and still couldn’t figure out what it was. And then he finally decided to go into our houses of worship. And what he found was that America is great, because Americans are good. And if Americans ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great. Because we are a country that has realized that great nations find a way to repair their faults.
We have a lot of faults, but we are moving in the right direction. So please keep America great by keeping yourself good. Thank you very much.