WASHINGTON — Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, becoming the first Black woman in decades to run an agency that will be at the forefront of the Biden administration’s efforts to fight racial inequity and poverty.
Ms. Fudge, a Democratic member of Congress representing the Cleveland area and the former mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, earned the support of all the Senate Democrats and many top Republicans, including that of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader. The final vote was 66 to 34.
For a fleeting moment on Wednesday, her two jobs, in two branches, overlapped: Ms. Fudge voted by proxy in favor of the administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.
Ms. Fudge was confirmed last month by the Senate Banking Committee by a 17-to-7 vote, with two key Republicans — Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio — supporting her nomination despite their misgivings about her progressive agenda.
In a statement after the vote, Mr. Portman praised Ms. Fudge for tackling “issues of poverty and lack of accessible and affordable housing with compassion,” adding, “She will make Ohio proud.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Ms. Fudge’s confirmation was a “proud day for the Congress and the country.”
Ms. Fudge, 68, inherits an agency with big plans and big problems.
Her predecessor, Ben Carson, oversaw an exodus of career staff, gutted fair housing enforcement and did little to address a nationwide crisis in affordable housing exacerbated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Carson, a former surgeon with no prior housing experience, did “silly things” at the department, Ms. Fudge said in an interview with The Plain Dealer in December.
If the agency was not at the forefront of President Donald J. Trump’s policy initiatives, it became a focal point of his political messaging. He attacked an Obama-era effort to eliminate local zoning regulations that discriminated against Black people and other groups that have faced prejudice, in a blatant pitch to white suburbanites. Proponents of the program criticized Mr. Trump’s actions as racist.
President Biden and Ms. Fudge have suggested that they would push ahead with the program.
Ms. Fudge has said she would use her time at HUD to address long-term issues, such as racism, the affordability crisis in major cities and homelessness. But her immediate priority is preventing evictions caused by the loss of income during the pandemic.
The administration’s relief package includes $21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance, $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion for homelessness assistance and $850 million for tribal and rural housing.
In the past, Ms. Fudge, who is Black, has complained that the top position at HUD was too often used to project a false impression of diversity rather than to drive policy.
“You know, it’s always ‘we want to put the Black person in Labor or HUD,’” she told Politico shortly after the election last year.
“When you look at what African-American women did in particular in this election, you will see that a major part of the reason that this Biden-Harris team won was because of African-American women,” she added.
HUD was, in fact, not Ms. Fudge’s first choice.
After Mr. Biden was elected, she lobbied publicly to be named agriculture secretary to oversee an agency that oversee food relief initiatives as well as farm subsidy programs. But that job was offered to Mr. Biden’s ally Tom Vilsack. Ms. Fudge was a surprise, late addition to the president’s list of nominees, supplanting Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who had been an early favorite to lead HUD.