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Waters at Hearing on Oversight of HUD: Key to Building Back Better, and More Equitably, Is Understanding That Housing Is Infrastructure

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hybrid hearing entitled, “Building Back A Better, More Equitable Housing Infrastructure for America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” 

First of all, a happy good morning, Secretary Fudge. I am so delighted to have you with us today to discuss the work that the Biden Administration is doing to build a more fair, equitable, and accessible housing infrastructure in this country. 

I want to begin by applauding you and the Biden Administration for treating our housing crisis with the urgency and seriousness it deserves. The Trump Administration made it crystal clear that it didn’t appreciate the magnitude of our nation’s housing crisis. By repeatedly proposing deep budget cuts to HUD programs and taking action to undermine our fair housing laws, the Trump Administration showed a complete disregard for low- and moderate-income families, people of color, the LGBTQ-plus community, and immigrants.

It’s only because of Democrats in Congress that HUD’s budget was not decimated during Trump’s presidency. Because elections matter, President Biden and HUD have now begun to reverse Trump’s anti-fair housing rules.   

Democrats on this Committee also remain laser-focused on ensuring that eligible families receive the housing assistance available to them through the CARES Act, the December relief package, the American Rescue Plan, and other coronavirus relief legislation.

We must remember, however, that we’re not just building back our economy from the pandemic and Donald Trump’s disastrous housing policies. We’re building back better! And that’s my focus for today’s hearing.

Key to building back better, and more equitably, is understanding that housing is infrastructure. For the first time in a generation, we have a real opportunity to fix structural problems in our housing system and reverse decades of disinvestment in low-income communities and communities of color. 

So, last week, I and several members of this Committee, introduced a legislative package of three bills that do just that. First, the Housing Is Infrastructure Act. Second is the Ending Homelessness Act. And the third, the Downpayment Toward Equity Act would help address the racial wealth and homeownership gaps by providing $100 billion toward downpayment and other financial assistance for first-generation homebuyers.

We must make housing a top priority. These generational investments will increase homeownership, provide a permanent housing safety net, and end homelessness in this country once and for all.   

So, Secretary Fudge, I know you are the right person to take advantage of this moment. Thank you so much for your leadership on this absolutely critical issue. I look forward to hearing your testimony today.

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