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Former Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge Tapped To Lead HUD

President-elect Joe Biden's choice for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has reassured part of the commercial real estate industry about the department's direction.

Biden has chosen Rep. Marcia Fudge, Democrat of Ohio, to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, Politico reports. Fudge, a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, would be the second Black woman to occupy that Cabinet post and the first since the administration of Jimmy Carter if confirmed. Her nomination is expected to be officially announced by the end of the week.

If she winds up serving on what is expected to be a fairly moderate Cabinet, Fudge could be tasked with reforming the regulations surrounding opportunity zones. She already has some CRE supporters.

“Under the leadership of Fudge, we can expect HUD to adopt measures that prioritize racial equity and addressing the wealth gap, such as reinstatement of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule," said Christian Hylton, a New York real estate attorney and co-chair of Philips Nizer's Land Use and Government Relations practice, in a statement provided to Bisnow.

Rep. Marcia Fudge in 2018, prior to her nomination to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Joe Biden.

Recognized as a champion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture during her time in Congress, Fudge was considered a frontrunner to lead that department, even publicly lobbying for the post herself. Instead, Biden nominated Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa and Secretary of Agriculture for the length of Barack Obama's presidency.

Fudge serves on three committees in the House of Representatives: the Committee on House Administration (which does not have to do with housing), the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Education and Labor. In expressing her desire to lead Agriculture, Fudge expressed previous frustration with what she saw as tokenization of some Cabinet posts, including HUD.

“As this country becomes more and more diverse, we're going to have to stop looking at only certain agencies as those that people like me fit in. You know, it's always, ‘We want to put the Black person in [the Department of] Labor or HUD,'" Fudge told Politico in November.

Fudge is a close personal friend of Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-highest ranking member of the House of Representatives and a political figure considered largely responsible for boosting Biden's profile in the South Carolina Democratic primary — a key turning point in the campaign. Clyburn also is a co-chair of Biden's Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Joe Biden campaigning for president in May 2019.

Prior to her time in Congress, where her district includes parts of Cleveland and Akron, Fudge served as mayor of suburban Warrensburg Heights, Ohio. Though she has had no direct exposure to the affordable housing industry, Fudge still comes with considerably more relevant experience than current HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who in his first government job oversaw a department plagued by indecision and lack of direction.

"If confirmed as HUD Secretary, she will have an incredible opportunity to work with the housing industry to improve the lives of millions of families. We are eager to do our part in working alongside her, and in collaboration with HUD," Rainbow Housing Assistance Corp. Executive Director Flynann Janisse said in a statement.