Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement during a full Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development & the Federal Housing.”
Good morning, Madam Secretary. It is indeed my honor to welcome you before the Committee today. On behalf of the Democratic Members of the Committee I want to thank you and your team, despite the dysfunction and obstruction by extreme MAGA Republicans, for all the work you’re doing to address our nation’s housing crisis by improving supply, affordability, and equitable access for all.
This fight to end our nation’s housing and homelessness crisis should be bipartisan. Right now, there is a shortage of 14 million homes for rent or purchase in the U.S and extremely low-income renters in particular are experiencing an absolute shortage of 4 million homes. Meanwhile, over the last several decades, housing costs have outpaced wage growth. It’s absolutely unacceptable that there is no state, metro area, or county where a minimum wage worker is able to afford the rent on a modest 2-bedroom home. These statistics apply to Republican districts as well as Democratic ones. In fact, 62% of Committee Republicans’ states saw an increase in homelessness that was equal to or higher than the 12% nationwide increase between 2022 and 2023.
That’s why I am pleased that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken an all-of-government approach to leverage critical pandemic relief and appropriations funds secured by Democrats to keep over 12.4 million families housed, increase the supply of affordable homes across the country, and lower housing costs for millions. In particular, HUD has helped house and provide services to over 2.6 million people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
That’s not all. Secretary Fudge, you’ve led HUD to make significant strides to expand homeownership. Since 2021, 1.8 million people have purchased a home utilizing mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, including 1.5 million first-time homebuyers. This is the highest first-time homeownership rate at FHA in 24 years!
There is work left to be done, but it’s unfortunate that Committee Republicans have brought Secretary Fudge here today just to attack HUD and the Administration for this work when MAGA Republicans are on track to shut down your agency and many others in just eight days, forcing HUD to shutter its operations. So, I’m proud that Democrats defeated an earlier Republican funding bill that would have slashed the federal housing budget, stripping rental assistance from 15,000 families, putting 63,000 rural families at increased risk of homelessness, eliminating 20,000 affordable homes from the supply pipeline, and more.
To make matters worse, under their watch, housing prices continue to skyrocket, making up 70 percent of core inflation, but they’ve done nothing in response.
Thankfully, Committee Democrats do have solutions. Just this Congress, I introduced a package of legislation that if passed into law will create nearly 1.4 million affordable homes, end homelessness, and revive the dream of homeownership for all. Today, we will also hear about many other solutions led by my fellow Democrats who stand ready to pass these bills into law.
So, I hope my Republican colleagues will work with Democrats to get these bills to the President’s desk. With that, I look forward to today’s hearing. The fight is on and I yield back the balance of my time.