Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge visited Jackson, Mississippi, on August 17, 2022 for the inaugural stop of “HUD on the Road.” Secretary Fudge commented, “When we say ‘HUD on the Road,’ what we know is that most people who need us don’t know what we have and can’t access us. Mississippi has one of the largest minority populations and has one of the poorest populations in the United States, but it also has people who want to do the good work. I wanted to start in a place where we could see that good things are happening in communities that people don’t even think about.”
Accompanied by Congressman Bennie Thompson, Secretary Fudge met with Mississippi homeowners and participated in roundtable discussions throughout her visit. One discussion was held at Tougaloo College with David Berenbaum, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Counseling, President Carmen J. Walters of Tougaloo College, President Thomas K. Hudson of Jackson State University, and President Ivy Taylor of Rust College. It focused on homeownership and asset building in the communities where Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are situated.
“Their (HBCUs) influence in communities like ours is so significant. If we can help them, they can help all the people that they touch, all of the students that they reach; it can change the lives of an entire generation. I’m here to show it can be done,” expressed Secretary Fudge.
Other panel discussions held throughout the day focused on down payment assistance programs and home lending with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), including Hope Enterprise Corporation, and community development, affordable housing, and homeownership with faith leaders at Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Derrick Harkins, HUD Director for the Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Rev. Reginald Buckley, president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and pastor of Cade Chapel MB Church; Rev. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention and pastor of New Hope Baptist Church; Bishop Dwayne K. Pickett Sr., pastor of New Jerusalem Church; Dr. Samuel Boyd, pastor of Pearl Street AME Church; Pastor Joe W. May of Anderson UMC; Bishop Ronnie C. Crudup Sr., pastor of New Horizon Church International; and Rev. Shirley Harrington, co-chair of faith-based initiatives for the National Baptist Convention were in attendance.
Secretary Fudge stated, “To create and help create housing for low and moderate income people is the only job I have. This state has large numbers of poor people and large numbers of people who are unhoused because I see it even around the hotel I’m staying in. But there’s such a great opportunity. The resources that this state has received from the Biden-Harris Administration are so significant that you can see change. Not just incremental change, but change now. The opportunities here are as large as the problems here.”
Last Monday, Governor Tate Reeves effectively shut down the federal-funded Rental Assistance for Mississippians Program (RAMP), rejecting $130 million. “Mississippi will continue to say no to these types of liberal handouts that encourage people to stay out of the workforce. Instead, we’re going to say yes to conservative principles and policies that result in more people working,” he posted on Twitter August 3, 2022.
Congressman Thompson noted, “All the money does not rest with the fact that it goes to state government. A lot of HUD money can go to counties, cities, and to nonprofits to provide a lot of the housing that we have. And the need is here.”
Congressman Thompson continued, “What we’ve seen at our level is that when the state is not willing to do certain things, there’s always Plan B and Plan C. There will be other delivery sources available.”
“It is time for people to know that the government can work for them. We can’t fix everything, but we can fix a lot if you just give us a chance,” Secretary Fudge remarked.
“HUD on the Road” is a new initiative where Secretary Fudge and other leaders from HUD’s headquarters mobilize in local communities to establish and advance productive dialogues with local elected officials and other stakeholders on HUD’s programs, policies, and priorities.