Chair DeLauro Statement at the FY 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development Hearing

2021-04-21 15:33

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart for holding this incredibly important hearing. I want to just say welcome, welcome and thank you, it’s wonderful to say, Secretary Marcia Fudge. And I can see you sitting where you were on the aisle there those days walking up and down, talking about housing, talking about nutrition for our kids and our families. We are in good hands with you at the helm of the Department of Housing so welcome, welcome and know that how closely we want to work with you to get the goals accomplished for the for the American people.

We are at a pivotal moment in our fight to expand housing access to the most vulnerable, and we are so lucky to have such an experienced fighter leading us. As Maya Angelou once said, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are.” Having a place to call one’s own is intrinsic to our identities. And when access to a home is threatened so too is the very fabric of our lives. 

Two very short anecdotes. When I was about nine or 10 years old, my family financially struggled, and we came home on Friday night to find all of our furniture out on the street. We had been evicted, and what we had to do was to go live with my grandmother for a while until we get back on our feet again. And to understand what it means to be evicted in our society, and what are the avenues for assistance and for help, to help people to be able to get back on track. 

And I mention this one, in terms of how people prize homeownership as the American dream. Again, my family, we never owned our home. But my mother, Congressman Price knew, she desperately wanted to have her own home, well into her 80s or so. Oftentimes, I would get a call from a real estate agent saying, “Rosa, your mom has called us, she saw this house for sale, and she wants to buy it.” And as I said she was well into her 80s, and there wasn't anyone who was going to provide the wherewithal and the insurance for her to be able to do that. But that really tugged at one’s being, of wanting to have your own space, your own home, is so important in our society.

As the Honorable Marcia Fudge will testify, “a healthy and productive life begins with a safe and stable home.” But on any single night in 2020, roughly 580,000 people experienced homelessness in the United States. In my home state of Connecticut, access to affordable housing opportunities is a serious and growing problem. It is an even greater problem for people of color. Among Black residents of Connecticut, 31 percent spend more than half of their income on rent, money that could be spent on other critical needs like food and healthcare. In Connecticut alone over the past year, 5,244 evictions were filed against families and 1,514 were evicted from their homes. But even more households may be forced to face eviction in the near future. 32 percent of Hispanic / Latinx households, 21 percent of Black and African American households, and 14 percent of white households have fallen behind on their rent in Connecticut. Every single day more and more people in my state and across the country are finding themselves on the streets. Thousands of families and children in my state alone are either homeless or seriously housing insecure, unsure if they will have a roof over their head next month. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue and put our nation’s most vulnerable populations, such as our disabled, nonwhite, and Native American populations, at increased risk. When individuals experience housing instability, they are at a greater risk of contracting COVID. This makes our entire country less safe.  

HUD’s budget request for this year seeks to address some of these challenges, exacerbated by this pandemic, by strengthening communities facing underinvestment. Through the expanded budget, the administration will provide housing choice vouchers to an additional 200,000 families, invest $500 million more to end homelessness, provide an extra $800 million for investment in the quality of affordable housing through resiliency and energy efficiency, increase the supply of affordable housing, including $900 million for Tribal communities, in order to reduce home health hazards for vulnerable families, support homeownership and pandemic relief, and promote efforts to prevent and redress racial injustice and housing discrimination. 

Over the last couple months, progress has been made to accelerate relief funds and expand access to vulnerable families. I especially applaud HUD’s efforts to extend the Federal Housing Administration’s foreclosure and eviction moratorium and forbearance enrollment window. And I am grateful for the work you are doing to help end the cycle of homelessness by providing permanent housing to vulnerable populations without unnecessary restrictions. However, there is still much work to be done to create sustainable and inclusive communities and to ensure every single American has access to a quality, affordable home which is what the preamble of the Housing Bill of 1949 states.

I look forward to hearing from you, Secretary Fudge, regarding the funds HUD needs, especially in regards to the 17 percent decline in your staffing that HUD has experienced since 2012. I look forward to working with you to build back a nation that is better and more equitable for all. With that, I thank Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart and I yield back. 

117th Congress