The HUD secretary runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development, often called HUD, which assists U.S. communities in providing fair and equal housing. The HUD Secretary oversees many programs that mostly deal with helping low-income families achieve homeownership as well as ensuring there's an adequate supply of affordable housing nationwide.

The department is also involved in fighting housing discrimination. The HUD Secretary works to support first-time homebuyers who may need assistance in overcoming financial hardships that may disqualify them for bank loans.

Key Takeaways

  • The HUD assists U.S. communities in providing fair and equal housing. 
  • The HUD Secretary makes policies, rules, and coordinates the efforts of HUD, so that headquarters and all offices serve the same mission. 
  • The Secretary oversees programs that help people with mortgages, as well as programs that develop communities.
  • Most of the Secretaries remain in office throughout the President’s tenure.

The Role of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is a member of the President’s Cabinet and reports directly to the President. The Secretary manages multiple programs that have thousands of employees.

One of the primary duties of the HUD Secretary is to advise the President on issues regarding housing. The Secretary makes policies, creates rules, and coordinates the efforts of HUD, so that headquarters and all offices serve the same mission. That mission is to make sure the citizenry has affordable housing, including both rental and owned properties.

The Secretary appoints individuals who serve as assistant secretaries who manage the funds and support services for fair housing and community development. The Secretary also works with the inspector general to oversee the management of the fund's HUD uses.

The Secretary serves on boards and commissions that are not internal to HUD. These include groups that monitor housing for minorities, as well as the elderly and disabled persons. The Department of Veterans Affairs and HUD serve on a joint committee that deals with homeless veterans, and the Secretary will oversee HUD’s efforts on that committee.

Programs under the HUD Secretary's Purview

The HUD Secretary oversees many programs designed to help improve the housing needs of Americans by fostering programs that create suitable living environments. Although the programs are numerous, they center around providing assistance for homeownership as well as rentals for low-income residents.

Mortgage Relief and Housing

The Secretary oversees programs that help people with mortgages, as well as programs that develop communities. In that capacity, the HUD Secretary oversees Ginnie Mae (GNMA), which is a corporation the United States owns and uses to add money to affordable mortgage pools. It does this by guaranteeing bonds backed by home mortgages. The Secretary ensures that the process is in place to guarantee the bonds. In this way, part of the Secretary’s mandate is to help families become homeowners.

The HUD Secretary is heavily involved with overseeing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This agency provides mortgage insurance to help homebuyers who cannot qualify for conventional mortgages.

Housing Assistance

The HUD Secretary also runs the housing assistance program, which provides low-income residents with rental subsidies. These subsidies are vouchers that are essentially rental payments to the owners of properties or landlords. The amount of the voucher represents the difference between what the tenants can afford to pay and the market rent for that unit.

Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. If you think you've been discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, marital status, use of public assistance, national origin, disability, or age, there are steps you can take. One such step is to file a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Public Housing

HUD provides payments to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), which are public housing programs that develop and manage housing units for low-income families and individuals.

Combating Homelessness

The HUD Secretary also is in charge of allocating funds to state and local governments to help homeless Americans. The funds are typically used for temporary shelters and to support housing with the goal of getting homeless people off the streets and into safe and decent living conditions. Some of the funds are allocated to providing services for homeless individuals with disabilities.

The HUD Secretary Position

The President often chooses a nominee for this position who has a background in law, business, or public administration. Other vital experience may include positions of leadership, as well as extensive familiarity with management.

The Secretary's annual salary has ranged over the years from $199,000 to more than $210,000 per year. The salary is paid by the General Fund of the Treasury. Most of the Secretaries remain in office throughout the President’s tenure. However, they are free to resign at any time.

The President also has the discretion to remove the Secretary from office and nominate a new one. Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development most often resign at the end of the President’s term in office.

Special Considerations

It should be noted that although HUD has a mandate to encourage homeownership and affordable housing, the Secretary may create a policy that runs counter to that mandate. Working in collaboration with the President, the Secretary may enact policies that have a different focus than previous Secretaries have had, and may, in fact, reject some aspects of the HUD’s mandate.

In short, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development holds a powerful office that leaves much leeway to interpret the mandate and assess the housing landscape nationwide. However, the Congressional approval process usually helps select a Secretary who supports HUD's mandate.