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Marcia Fudge — 'The Fixer' — will take on HUD

Marcia Fudge — 'The Fixer' — will take on HUD
© Greg Nash

Last week, something remarkable happened: The Senate confirmed Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeHHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities Iowa governor signs law allowing landlords to refuse Section 8 vouchers Ohio sets special election to replace retiring Rep. Steve Stivers MORE (D-Ohio) as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She has her work cut out for her. 

Let’s be honest, when I browse social media, turn on TV news or listen to talk radio, I am confronted by the sad fact that far too often we, as a nation, are yelling about things we should be whispering about and whispering about the things we should be yelling about. 

Case in point: Despite the deadliest pandemic since 1918 and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our public debate for the past couple of weeks has been largely preoccupied with the removal of certain Dr. Seuss books containing insensitive language and the removal of Mr. Potato Head’s gender.

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So, while we’re yelling about so-called “cancel culture” that caused or contributed to these changes, we’re whispering about the fact that many American families face one of the worst housing crises in our nation’s history.

Back in December, Moody’s Analytics reported that nearly 12 million U.S. renters were expected to owe an average of roughly $6,000 apiece in late rent and utility payments, and nearly 3 million homeowners would be more than 90 days past due on their mortgages in January.

By February, roughly one in five renters was behind on rent and more than 10 million homeowners were behind on mortgage payments, putting them at risk of eviction and foreclosure.

And while President BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE reacted to the situation by extending the foreclosure moratorium and expanding forbearance programs, that stopgap action did little to address the fact that our nation has a 7.2 million unit affordable housing shortage. More than 500,000 Americans are homeless on any given night, and there is nowhere in America where a full-time worker making minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment.

This is exactly the kind of crisis we should be yelling about. Instead we whisper. 

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It reminds me of the old story about the frog swimming in the pot who doesn’t notice the water getting hotter and hotter until he’s cooked.

Now, Secretary Fudge is set with all the challenges of a global pandemic and a housing crisis that’s generations in the making. On top of that, she inherits a department with less funding and manpower than it had four years ago, and one that has been undermined in its mission by former HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonNoem takes pledge to restore 'patriotic education' in schools Watchdog blames Puerto Rico hurricane relief delays on Trump-era bureaucracy Ben Carson defends op-ed arguing racial equity is 'another kind of racism' MORE’s actions such as revoking the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.

Still, Fudge — a longtime congresswoman, former Congressional Black Caucus chair and former national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority — is more than up to the task. In fact, I am convinced that choosing her to lead HUD could prove to be one of the most impactful decisions President Biden makes.

Not only does she have the vision, experience and temperament to take on our nation’s housing challenges, she also has the strength of character to see that vision through. She is a true leader who will remind us not just that the government can be a force for good in this country, but that it should be.

Under her leadership, I’m convinced it will be.

Finally, Fudge has a history of earning the trust of those around her and making institutions and people better than she found them. You see, she isn’t a product of Washington-style politics. She was a mayor and that helped her to understand better than most people the impact she can make in people’s lives. As a former mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio (known as the Friendly City), Fudge knows the struggles that many Americans face firsthand. She knows that failure is not an option.

We have a broken housing system in this country. Luckily for us, Marcia Fudge is The Fixer.

Antjuan Seawright is a Democratic political strategist, founder and CEO of Blueprint Strategy LLC, a CBS News political contributor, and a senior visiting fellow at Third Way. Follow him on Twitter @antjuansea.