On Tuesday evening, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge hosted a virtual HUD “House Party” to promote home ownership and share information about the resources available to would-be house buyers. As Secretary Fudge noted in her opening remarks, the event was aimed specifically at “historically underserved communities.”

Secretary Fudge spoke exclusively with Blavity prior to the event and invited us to tune in live.

Giving people a chance to own homes and build wealth.

Speaking to Blavity, Secretary Fudge explained that the HUD event was aimed at reaching younger people, particularly Millennials and members of Gen Z, as well as Black and other minority populations who have been left behind by housing disparities.

“Today the housing gap, the ownership gap between Black and white people is the same as it was in 1968,” the secretary explained. Such disparities have impact that grow over time, since “home ownership is the way to build wealth.”

Secretary Fudge explained that as she traveled around the country, including visits to HBCUs and other communities of color, that she has observed firsthand the growing housing crisis among various populations, including homeless youth and even college students forced to sleep in friends’ dorm rooms or in cars because of a lack of affordable housing. For all these groups, Secretary Fudge said that events like Tuesday’s House Party are intended to “give them a chance to look at options that they didn’t think was available to them.”

Mayors share personal stories and resources for homebuyers

The HUD “House Party,” aimed at these younger would-be homeowners, began and ended with a DJ set that framed the event in joyful and optimistic tones. After opening remarks from Secretary Fudge, she introduced three mayors of key urban populations where work is being done to close the housing gap. Mayor Regina Romero of Tucson recounted her own experiences as a “daughter of farm-working immigrants” who purchased her first home at 24, and she touted programs her city offers to help buyers with down payments and more. Mayor Steve Adler of Austin remembered using an FHA loan to purchase his first house and noted his administration’s efforts to waive certain building regulations for developers who create affordable housing options. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott discussed his own experience using HUD’s home buyer counseling services and his government’s creation of a financial empowerment center to provide financial education to Baltimore residents.

Dispelling myths and providing opportunities

After the mayors finished, several additional guests offered their experiences and expertise. Julienne Joseph, a HUD official who joked of her role as the “ FHA mortgage lady,” conducted a session where she dispelled several myths about home purchasing and HUD assistance. These myths included beliefs that buyers needed 20% down payments (the actual number for FHA mortgages is only 3.5%), that FHA loans are limited by income, or that student loan or low credit scores are always disqualifying for FHA loans. Several recent home purchasers, all people of color, spoke of their experiences and lessons learned in the process, while additional HUD officials directed viewers to resources available through the department’s counseling services and on its website. Following a round of questions and answers, Secretary Fudge wrapped things up before the DJ played out the end of the session.

Many of the resources described in the program can be accessed through the HUD website here, and the recording of the HUD House Party is available here.