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Affordable homes will be part of fight

Ohio is not alone in its need to solve the problem of lack of affordable, quality housing for its residents. But it may now have a national ally in that effort. U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, is leaving her seat in Congress after having been confirmed as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Joe Biden administration.

What’s also exciting is that Fudge is the step-sister of Warren Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th Ward.

“My first priority as secretary would be to alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge,” Fudge said in January.

The Cleveland native is a graduate of The Ohio State University. She earned a law degree from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Previously Fudge worked in the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office as its director of budget and finance. Fudge also has worked as an auditor for the estate tax department and occasionally has served as a visiting judge and as a chief referee for arbitration.

Additionally, she served as mayor of Warrensville Heights from January 2000 to Nov. 18, 2008. She served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones during Jones’ first term in Congress.

After Jones’ death in 2008, Fudge was selected as her replacement. She won a race for the seat in November 2008.

She also has been chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In her new job, Fudge will be in charge of the $50 billion government agency.

“Her selection will benefit the nation and the state of Ohio,” Saffold recently said of her sister’s selection.

Among Fudge’s ideas for doing so is the extension of an eviction moratorium put in place at the start of the pandemic, $25 billion in rental assistance from Congress and the construction of 1.5 million energy-efficient affordable housing units.

It will be important for landlords to have some discretion when it comes to evictions, given the difference between tenants who truly cannot pay as a result of economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, and those who simply won’t pay. Landlords also will need some assurance they will be protected as their own revenue streams dwindle.

Fudge is right to call for “compassion and resolve” as she hopes to tackle the homelessness problem, and to be on the march against discriminatory practices in the housing market.

She must add to her list, then, the effort to weed out fraud, waste and bad behavior by those who receive HUD funding for projects at the local and state levels. Hers must not be an administration that throws money at problems with no regard for whether that money is achieving results for the people her agency is meant to help.

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