What Does the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Do?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, often called HUD, assists U.S. communities in providing fair and equal housing. HUD encourages home ownership and keeps an eye on the amount of affordable housing that is available nationwide.

The department is also involved in fighting housing discrimination, and works to support first-time home buyers who may need assistance in overcoming financial hardships that may disqualify them for bank loans. (See also: HUD vs. FHA Loans: What’s the Difference?)

Duties of the 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 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 home buyers who cannot qualify for conventional mortgages.

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 funds 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.

How Much Does the HUD Secretary Get Paid?

The Secretary's annual salary is $199,700. The salary is paid by the General Fund of the Treasury.

Typical Background Experience for HUD Secretary

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.

How Long Does the HUD Secretary Stay in Office?

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.

It should be noted that although HUD has a mandate to encourage home ownership and affordable housing, the Secretary may create 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.