April 18, 2022

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge: A Landmark Visit and Why It Matters to Older Adults

AHEPA Affordable Housing Management was thrilled to welcome U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, and several members of Congress, to one of our six senior living communities in Houston last month. This was particularly exciting as it was the first visit by a HUD secretary to an AHEPA community! Our team guided Secretary Fudge on a campus tour of our AHEPA 29 Senior Apartments, which offer very low-income adults age 62 and older, safe and well maintained, residential apartments. These communities provide supportive services that allow residents to continue living independently as they age in place. During her visit, Secretary Fudge also met with many of our residents, board members, and staff.

Why the Visit?

Secretary Fudge traveled to Houston to host a town hall meeting where she announced $45 million would be given to combat the homelessness in the city. While noting that the cost of housing has risen dramatically, she encouraged the crowd by stating the Biden administration will be building 100,000 new affordable homes in the next two years.

“We know to get prices down; we have to build more housing. There is no other answer to it,” Secretary Fudge said. “The only thing we can do is use the money from the Rescue Plan and others to build more housing. It’s just supply and demand. Because we don’t have enough supply, the demand is so high that the prices continue to rise. So in order to take the stress off the market, we have to put new affordable housing in the market.”

The secretary’s visit to Houston also sent a strong signal that older adults are not to be forgotten when it comes to affordable housing. It came on the heels of a historic investment by Congress in HUD-assisted housing for communities such as ours — a 21% increase above the previous fiscal year — the largest increase since 2010. AHEPA Affordable Housing Management understands the need and demand for affordable housing for older adults in Houston as waitlist submissions for our area communities are the highest in our nationwide portfolio.

The concerning waitlist figures will continue as increased demand for HUD-assisted housing, especially for older adults, is expected. A May 2020 Government Accountability Report (GAO) report on Rental Housing found, “The late middle-aged group (50 – 64 years) experienced the largest estimated increase in the number of renter households — an increase of 4 million households — and accounted for more than half of the total increase in renter households from 2001 through 2017.”  The GAO noted many of these households have not recovered from the financial crisis, and the GAO cited a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies report that this group has lower incomes and higher rentership rates than previous generations. Therefore, quality affordable housing for seniors must remain a priority in Washington and in our hometowns.

Honoring the Service

During her visit with residents, Secretary Fudge went out of her way to make the visit personal and memorable. She respectfully presented AHEPA Affordable Housing Management Maintenance Supervisor Roberto Selgado with an American flag. This flag is particularly meaningful, as it once flew over the U.S. Capitol. Secretary Fudge personally thanked Selgado for his dutiful 22 years of service. Additionally, she presented our President and CEO, Steve Beck, with an American flag that will remain at AHEPA 29 Senior Apartments.

Celebrating the Future

2022 is the centennial anniversary of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), whose chapters are sponsors of most of the properties AHEPA Affordable Housing Management runs, and whose members serve on our board. We could not be happier that an emphasis and a commitment to affordable housing for all, particularly very low-income seniors, is being made. At AHEPA Affordable Housing Management we aspire to give back to our communities. We are encouraged to see others join us in working towards dignified housing for all and following the bold vision set forth by AHEPA’s founders.