U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge visited Oakland’s Fruitvale Village to see solutions to the nation’s housing crisis. She acknowledged that California has the most pronounced housing problem in the country.

The visit to housing development Casa Arabella on East 12th Street this past Thursday kicked off a day of activities in Oakland for Fudge. She also visited other Oakland housing solutions such as Clifton Hall, where formerly unhoused residents live following the conversion of a college dormitory with state Homekey funds.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia L. Fudge. (Photo courtesy of HUD)

Joining Fudge were Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“Every person should have a place like this,” Fudge said of Casa Arabella, a 94-unit affordable housing development across the street from the Fruitvale BART station, as well as shops and eateries.

Fudge said the supply of housing is so small.

“We really need people to say it’s OK to build in my backyard,” she said.

The bottom line is America needs the will to solve the housing crisis, Fudge said.

“Housing is a basic human right,” Lee said, echoing comments by Schaaf.

All three touched on homelessness. Schaaf said roughly one-half of unsheltered Americans live in California.

While Oakland and the Bay Area is ground zero for the housing crisis, Schaaf said, “It is also ground zero for hope and solutions.”

“We really need people to say it’s OK to build in my backyard.”

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge

A three-year pilot program in Oakland has prevented numerous families from entering homelessness and the one-time cost per family on average was $3,800, the mayor said.

Homelessness is a “moral disgrace,” Lee said.

Fudge called it a “stain on our nation.”

“It is time to repair our faults,” she said.

Fudge’s visit was meant to highlight investments in housing in the agenda of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Part of the agenda is to lower housing costs by using tax credits and government financing. About 10.5 million American renters are paying more than half of their income in rent, according to the White House.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.