President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio to serve as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the transition team announced Thursday.
Fudge became a Biden surrogate earlier this year after initially endorsing California Sen. Kamala Harris in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. She was among several cabinet picks announced Thursday by the incoming administration.
The former Congressional Black Caucus chair, ex-national president of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the first Black and woman mayor of the Cleveland suburb of Warrensville Heights, was heavily pushed by Black lawmakers and leaders for the role of Agriculture secretary, given her extensive resume in the House on the issue. In a statement, Fudge was referred to as “a leading voice for working families” and “a fierce advocate for solutions to our nation’s most pressing issues.”
HUD has had five Black secretaries, the most of any federal agency. Robert Weaver, nominated to lead HUD by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, became the first Black person to hold a Cabinet-level post. Patricia Harris became the first Black woman to serve as HUD secretary and first Black woman to serve in a presidential Cabinet when she was appointed to the role by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Renowned surgeon Ben Carson was nominated to the position by President Donald Trump in 2016 and has been among the administration’s longest-serving Cabinet members.
Though Fudge’s role is not historic, it has the potential to be significant. Biden pledged during the campaign and after his election to center racial equity as among the four crises he and Harris will inherit upon taking office. And women and people of color have been disproportionately hard-hit economically by the pandemic — Biden’s top governing priority — which has exposed housing insecurity as among the most acute issues facing Americans.