|On July 20, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing titled, “Building Back A Better, More Equitable Housing Infrastructure for America: Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” The hearing focused on the allocation of remaining CARES Act funds, high housing costs, the President’s American Jobs Plan, and other salient housing issues. Chair Maxine Waters opened the hearing with a statement focused on advances in housing policy since the previous administration and also identified future threats to housing security. A statement by Ranking Member Patrick McHenry followed, highlighting the need to allocate CARES Act money in a more expeditious manner. The discussion was framed against the backdrop the impending expiration of the eviction moratorium, which could lead to further housing destabilization.
The only witness at the hearing was HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. In her testimony, Secretary Fudge drew the members attention to the heightened housing insecurity over the past year. To address the issue, she discussed how HUD’s most recent budget worked to increase the social safety net and highlighted the need to increase supportive services for vulnerable populations and improve public housing stock, among other priorities. During the questioning period, Committee members inquired about the status of Emergency Rental Assistance money, shared best practices from their respective states and expressed concerns about the amount of unspent rental relief funds. In response, Secretary Fudge explained the role of localities in allocating funds and the need to bolster HUD’s capacity to ensure that grantees receive adequate technical assistance, but also noted that the committee should expect to see an uptick in the use of those funds soon. Committee members further asked about streamlining the FHFA loan process to increase access for first time homebuyers. They also discussed the intersection of efforts to expand the Housing Choice Voucher, with increasing the housing stock as a method to combat homelessness. For a link to watch the hearing, click here.