By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was created during the Johnson administration almost 60 years ago and, for the first time ever, a HUD Secretary visited Toledo, Ohio last week.
Urged on by Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and her close friend and former colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Secretary Marcia Fudge visited the Glass City and heard city leaders and elected officials praise her leadership and tout the gains the City has made in the short time that Fudge, a fellow Ohioan, has headed the department.
Fudge is a Cleveland, Ohio native and a graduate of Shaker Heights High School. She earned an undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and her law degree from Cleveland State University.
Fudge entered politics in 1999 as the chief of staff for Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and in 2001 ran for and won the office of mayor of Warrensville Heights. In 2008 upon the death of Tubbs, Fudge became the congresswoman representing the 11th District of Ohio and continued to win elections until she was appointed to the position of HUD Secretary by President Joe Biden in 2021.
Fudge and Kaptur stopped by the Toledo Urban Credit Union during the morning to hold a meeting with several community leaders including: TUFCU CEO Suzette Cowell, TUFCU Board President Bishop Pat McKinstry, TUFCU Board member Rev. Tim Pettaway, Nueva Esperanza Community Credit Union CEO Sue Cuevas, NECCU Board Chairman Adam Martinez, Pathway, Inc CEO Jay Black and Lucas Metropolitan President Joaquin Cintron Vega and Bishop Duane Tisdale of Friendship Baptist Church.
Kaptur introduced Fudge by describing her as a “dogged advocate for American cities” while also praising TUFCU for its 26 year success in spite of tremendous obstacles presented in part by federal governing agencies.
“This is the first fair credit institution in the history of Toledo in the Black community,” said Kaptur of TUFCU.
Cowell noted that she founded the credit union at the behest of Bishop Tisdale but broadened the concept into a community-wide institution at the urging of Congresswoman Kaptur.
The attendees spoke of the experiences of their organizations, along with the difficulties of trying to obtain assistance in many cases from government entities. Those who had experienced contact with the U.S. Department of HUD since Fudge’s arrival in her post also noted her for the positive changes she has implemented at the department.
“We are trying to do a lot of things,” said Fudge. “For example, with rental assistance … what we have now is a crisis of housing and a crisis of homelessness.” Fudge spoke of her department’s interest in working with community development financial institutions to help solve some of the crises that have resulted from a nationwide shortage of housing. “We want to do more,” she added of that effort.
It is estimated that Americans suffer from a shortage of about 1.5 million housing units.
In the afternoon, Fudge and Kaptur held a press conference at the Toledo Lucas County Main Branch Library attended by dozens of Toledoans.
The mayor opened the press conference by welcoming the secretary of Toledo and introduced the City of Toledo Department of Housing and Community Development Director Rosalyn Clemens who spoke of the positive changes at HUD since Fudge’s appointment as secretary.
“HUD is more customer friendly,” said Clemens. “She is making sure we can access programs more efficiently. She has helped Toledo turn the corner.”
Cintron Vega added his thanks for the improvement at the department. “Her leadership has been phenomenal and we see the changes.”
Fudge spoke briefly at the library event mentioning the amount of money that will be flowing into the Dorr and Detroit corner for the expansion of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union and the billions that HUD has spent and will be spending to deal with the housing crisis.
The housing crisis, she noted, has three issues that contribute to the difficulty in overcoming it. “Housing isn’t affordable, there is not enough housing and people don’t want to build housing for low income people,” she said.
Nevertheless, Fudge noted that her department is focused on just that issue, increasing the housing stock in the USA and fulfilling her obligation as an elected official.
“We only have one job – to take care of the people we serve,” she said. “I want people to know we have made it better when I leave office; we are going to change lives.”