WASHINGTON —Today, the House Financial Services Committee, led by Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), is holding a hearing featuring Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge. McHenry is holding Secretary Fudge accountable for her routine avoidance of numerous requests to appear before the committee, HUD’s treatment of disabled veterans, and the Department’s gross lack of attention to issues under its jurisdiction. Congressman McHenry pressed the Secretary on her avoidance of issues regarding disabled veterans that have been raised by Tenth District non-profit Purple Heart Homes.
Watch Congressman McHenry’s opening remarks here.
Read Congressman McHenry’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Welcome back, Secretary Fudge.
“It’s been 906 days since you last testified in July of 2021.
“That was your first and only appearance before the committee during your almost three years as Secretary.
“To be clear, this is not for a lack of trying by Committee Republicans. Your office routinely avoided responding to numerous requests to appear in 2023.
“This sends the wrong message to struggling American families, to taxpayers, and to the Members of this Committee, all of whom recognize the fragility of our housing market.
“My expectation is that Members will use their time effectively today to get the answers our constituents deserve. The issues at hand are too important to be sidelined by political gamesmanship.
“A lot has changed since you last appeared, Secretary Fudge, and little for the better.
“Mortgage rates have increased 150 percent since their all-time low in January 2021, rents have risen by more than 15 percent nationally since 2021, and homelessness increased by 12 percent over last year.
“There has been a gross lack of attention to these issues under your watch and little progress, which makes your unwillingness to appear before this Committee even more concerning.
“We have a lot to discuss today. So, I’ll dive right in.
“HUD’s disparate treatment of disabled veterans seeking housing assistance is exacerbating the veterans’ homelessness crisis. Under your leadership, the agency has repeatedly failed to do right by these American heroes.
“There is a charity headquartered in my district – Purple Heart Homes in Statesville, North Carolina – created to provide housing solutions for qualified service-connected disabled veterans.
“Purple Heart Homes reached out to my office for help after realizing HUD red tape is incorrectly disqualifying disabled veterans from accessing housing assistance through the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program.
“At issue is HUD's use of not one, not two, but three different definitions of ‘income’ for these veterans. This means under some definitions they might qualify and under others they might not.
“These conflicting rules understandably confuse applicants and grantees alike, leaving some disabled veterans without access to the support they qualify for.
“I wrote to you in 2022 urging HUD to fix this problem by simply issuing clear guidance to address any confusion.
“Instead of doing something, it took three months for you to respond, saying you would ‘consider how [hud] can better communicate income definitions.’
“A few weeks later, I wrote again requesting you reconsider and take swift action to resolve the problem.
“When you finally responded you defended the system, saying your existing rules ‘do not disenfranchise disabled veterans.’
“Your lack of attention to such a serious problem facing our nation’s veterans is unacceptable. Denying support to disabled veterans in any capacity is abhorrent. HUD has a legal and moral obligation to do better.
“Unfortunately, your unresponsiveness to Congressional inquiries appears to be part of an alarming trend by Biden Administration regulators and agency heads who think they’re above the law and beyond scrutiny.
“Secretary Fudge, I hope today’s hearing serves as a reminder, Congress will carry out its oversight duties, we will get the answers the American people deserve, and we will hold you accountable for the decisions you make.”