On Housing and More, We Call on the Biden Administration to Do Better in Its Agenda to ‘Build Back Better’

The Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), Liberation in a Generation, and KC Tenants issue a joint statement in response to President-elect Joe Biden’s appointment of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary.

The COVID-19 pandemic and recession have amplified and exacerbated the housing crisis in America. As has always been true, every policy—and political—choice made today and in the weeks ahead will define the economic well-being and health of generations to come, especially for people of color. 

Though we do not doubt her commitment to public service and progressive values, President-elect Biden’s choice of Rep. Fudge for HUD Secretary is troubling for a few reasons. First, we hope but have no absolute assurance that she supports a Homes Guarantee. The work of HUD in 2021 and beyond must not only undo the racist housing actions of the Trump administration—and of America’s history of racist housing policy—but it must also intentionally and explicitly respond to the current housing crisis, in which 40 million tenants face eviction come January. As she did with a Green New Deal and Medical for All, Rep. Fudge should follow the people’s movement and commit to a Homes Guarantee. We ask her to publicly support this necessary policy position. 

Second, we are concerned about the Biden administration’s commitment to racial equity and inclusion. Diversity is not enough, and the Biden-Harris team must show, not just tell, us that its understanding of these fundamental progressive values exceeds antiquated notions and ideals. Simply put: We can’t achieve racial justice only by the number of Black people who are put into Biden’s cabinet. We applaud people of color, especially Black women, for gaining access to positions of power but not as an optics play by political strategists. We believe that this nomination is not only an insult to Rep. Fudge’s demonstrated talent and thoughtfulness, but it also does a disservice to HUD, which needs to be rebuilt entirely. As an agricultural expert, Rep. Fudge’s knowledge and experience could be better served as USDA Secretary, which she publicly lobbied for and was supported by many. 

Finally, if this nomination moves forward, we will be watching for what happens behind the scenes at HUD, especially in regards to the hiring process for positions that are more removed from public debate. It cannot be overstated that any appointment made under Rep. Fudge is significantly important. We hope and will push for selections that draw from a qualified bench of people of color who have a clear vision for—and the fight to back it—a complete rebuilding of HUD in ways that support a Homes Guarantee and mitigate the generational harm of our nation’s racist housing policies and politics. 

Ultimately, we welcome any and all opportunities to work alongside Rep. Fudge as HUD Secretary. And as always, we know that the real work is happening in the streets—all around this country. We’ll see you there.

Maurice BP-Weeks, ACRE
Jeremie Greer, Liberation in a Generation
Tara Raghuveer, KC Tenants