Hearing on Three HUD Nominees

Legislation | August 05, 2021 | by Linda Couch

On August 5, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on three HUD nominees.

On August 5, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on three HUD nominees: Julia Gordon to serve as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, David Uejio to serve as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and Solomon Greene to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.

Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called the three nominees’ roles at HUD critical. “Today’s nominees have been selected to provide their expertise at important agencies that are doing real work – work that has the potential to bring down people’s rents, and to help more families get a mortgage for their first home and join the middle class,” Chair Brown said.

In each of their testimonies, the nominees spoke to their personal experiences with housing and other social welfare programs.

Ms. Gordon, who currently serves as president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, said that her mother lives in a subsidized apartment building for seniors, and that her mother’s rent would exceed her monthly income if not for additional housing assistance she receives from the county. “This lived experience undergirds my commitment to promoting homeownership, which is the best path to family stability and prosperity, and to ensuring that we support safe, affordable, and habitable rental housing,” Ms. Gordon said.

Mr. Uejio, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said as a third-generation immigrant from Japan, I have seen firsthand the barriers to opportunity that can arise from discrimination in housing. “My grand uncle was interned during World War II; more recently my father in law became severely disabled and had difficulty finding to accessible housing. My life has shown me the crucial role housing plays in providing access to opportunity for every American; and no American’s path to secure housing should be blocked by unlawful discrimination,” Mr. Uejio said.

Mr. Greene, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute, said he was raised primarily by a single mother who earned so little while working full-time as a nurse that we received Medicaid and food stamps. “By economic necessity, my family often moved to where we could afford the rent until my mother was able to scrimp and save just enough for a down payment on a house in a rural county in New York,” Mr. Greene said.

Ms. Gordon emphasized a broad array of housing challenges facing the nation today. “I look forward to working with President Biden, Secretary Fudge, and Congress on several time-sensitive priorities. First and foremost is preventing foreclosures stemming from COVID-related economic hardship.  Hundreds of thousands of FHA homeowners are behind on their mortgage. Most have had a CARES Act forbearance for more than a year now, which has left them with considerable arrearages, and many have seen a permanent reduction in income. While FHA has already done a lot of hard work to develop the right tools to help these homeowners begin to pay their mortgage again, there is still a very steep hill to climb,” Ms. Gordon said.

At the hearing, Senator Catherin Cortez Mastro (D-NV) congratulated the “three housing experts with decades of experience” and noted, “Fundamentally, the housing market is not working for so many families, particularly families of color.”

In addition to opposition to the nominees by some Republican members of the Committee, topics raised at the hearing included the homeownership opportunities for low and moderate wealth households, the overall shortage of affordable housing, pace of housing price appreciation, livable communities, the buying-up of currently or potentially affordable housing by investors, and transit oriented development. Oversight of the HUD’s more than 1.3 million units of project-based multifamily rental assistance contracts or the FHA’s multifamily business line was not a main topic of conversation.

Watch a webcast of the hearing here.