Marcia Fudge will be the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Fudge, 68, will step into the role after serving in the House of Representatives since first being elected in 2008. Earlier, she served as mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

Rep. Marcia Fudge
Franmarie Metzler Rep. Marcia Fudge

The Senate confirmed her nomination 66-34 today, making her the first woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years.

A number of housing and civil rights organizations strongly endorsed Fudge’s nomination to lead HUD.

“Secretary Fudge’s demonstrated leadership on economic justice issues such as food insecurity and education access will be an asset at HUD as she will bring needed expertise to aligning systems and services to better meet the needs of low-income Americans,” said Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, in a statement.

The new secretary has “an opportunity to address protracted problems in public housing that have existed for decades,” said Zaterman, noting that “years of willful neglect and chronic disinvestment in public housing have left the portfolio in disrepair."

Recapitalizing the public housing portfolio is a significant step toward reversing racial inequities created by decades of racist housing policies, according to Zaterman, who is also calling for the Housing Choice Voucher program to be expanded.

While in the House, Fudge led an annual sign-on letter, bringing her colleagues together to ask for increased funding for the HOME program, noted the National Council of State Housing Agencies. She was also a cosponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which seeks to expand and enhance the low-income housing tax credit.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also applauded Fudge’s confirmation.

“We look forward to working with her to address the urgent needs associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to advance HUD’s mission of promoting affordable homeownership and rental housing opportunities for all Americans,” said NAHB chairman Chuck Fowke. “NAHB also stands ready to work with the secretary and her new team to promote pro-housing policies that ensure stable and liquid mortgage markets for single-family and multifamily housing.”

Officials at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), National Apartment Association (NAA), National Housing Conference (NHC), Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, and National Low Income Housing Coalition all congratulated Fudge on her confirmation.

“On behalf of the nation’s rental housing industry, we look forward to working with secretary Fudge and her team to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19, provide critically needed support to apartment residents and housing providers, and address the housing affordability crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said NMHC and NAA in a joint statement.

They cited the housing and homelessness assistance included in a new stimulus package. “We are especially appreciative of the additional direct rental assistance and want to work with the secretary to ensure that the funds are distributed in an efficient and effective manner,” said the organizations.

David Dworkin, NHC president and CEO, said Fudge “brings an impressive track record of leading efforts to revitalize communities and advocating for vulnerable populations and underserved communities.”

“A dedicated public servant, secretary Fudge will bring fresh ideas to advancing community development and driving much-needed investments to close the minority homeownership gap and increase affordable housing opportunities in communities across the nation,” he said.

During her nomination hearing, Fudge called attention to the nation’s housing crisis, saying that on any given night approximately 500,000 people are homeless in America. She also noted that despite Congress providing $25 billion in rental assistance at the end of December and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extending an eviction moratorium, there were still tens of millions of Americans behind on rent and almost 3 million homeowners in forbearance and another 800,000 borrowers who were delinquent.

“My first priority as secretary would be to alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge,” she said.