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Fudge to Latinos: 'If I don't do more for communities like yours, then I have not done my job'

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge on Wednesday tied her job success to the results she delivers to disadvantaged communities.

“We currently face a 1.5 million home shortage in this country. We need strong, inclusive, sustainable communities and affordable homes for the people that live in them. And if I don’t do more for communities like yours, then I have not done my job and I won’t go out that way,” Fudge told the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB).

NALCAB, a network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to growing wealth among Hispanics, is holding its annual three-day national conference in Washington, D.C.

The group’s focus is to advance economic mobility in Latino communities, with a focus on building generational wealth through a range of economic activities, including homeownership.

“We are really focused on helping close the racial and ethnic wealth gap, and our members are doing that through all sorts of economic development interventions that all have the aim of advancing economic mobility for Latinos in the United States,” NALCAB CEO Marla Bilonick told The Hill in a recent interview.

Historically, homeownership has been a key builder of wealth in the United States.

While the Latino homeownership rate reached 48.4 percent in 2021, it’s still below the peak 49.7 percent rate in 2007, before the financial crisis, according to a report by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

The growth in homeownership over the past two years was outpaced by the homeownership growth among non-Hispanic whites, according to the report, despite faster population growth among Hispanics.

That’s a contributing factor to the ethnic wealth gap, the difference in total average assets between white and Hispanic families.

According to a report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, a typical — or median — Hispanic family in 2019 owned $38,000 in total wealth, compared to $184,000 for the typical white family.

The Black-white gap was even greater, as the typical Black family owned about $23,000 in total wealth.

Fudge’s invitation as the keynote speaker underlined the importance of homeownership for NALCAB, but the conference is scheduled to touch on a series of economic issues, from business ownership to a session on development for rural communities in Puerto Rico.

The overall focus for NALCAB is to help its member organizations implement asset-building programs in the communities they serve.

“The assets that are being built are homes that are owned, businesses that are owned and grown, jobs that are created,” said Bilonick. 

“The recognition that we’re really building assets that can be passed down to a next generation is the way that we focus on closing the racial wealth gap. And of course, there are other levers to be pulled, but all of our members share that in common that they’re looking to advance economic mobility for Latinos through these interventions that help them to build assets,” she added.

Source: The Hill

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