HUD Archives: News Releases
|HUD No. 97-01|
|Contact: Bill Connelly 202/708-0685||12:30 p.m. Eastern Time|
|Alex Sachs 202/708-0685||Tuesday, January 7, 1997|
IN NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS, SECRETARY CISNEROS WARNS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In his last major speech as Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development, Henry G. Cisneros today warned that
government must, "leave no one behind as it extends opportunity to
all." Cisneros also discussed promising efforts, begun under his
tenure, to tackle homelessness, transform public housing, and
foster the economic renaissance under way in many cities.
"WE MUST LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND AS WE EXTEND OPPORTUNITY TO ALL"
Cisneros, speaking at the National Press Club, warned that
Americans must continue to be concerned about:
Despite these continuing concerns, Cisneros said that he
leaves office optimistic about America's future -- in large part
because of the determined, hard-working people he has met in visits
to more than 180 cities and communities -- from public housing
projects to suburban areas -- in all 50 states.
- An impending crisis in affordable housing -- While more than
5.3 million low income households spend more than one-half of
their income for rent, the Congress has refused to increase
the number of rental vouchers for working families.
- The availability of jobs for welfare recipients -- The
government and the private sector have a responsibility to
provide the poor with more job training and job opportunities.
- Racial discrimination -- Even as we approach a new century,
discriminatory housing practices keep minorities out of many
neighborhoods. Discrimination is "a deadly poison that dashes
hopes and futures every day," Cisneros said.
- High levels of poverty and homelessness -- America cannot
realize its hopes and dreams if we accept the level of poverty
in this country today.
- The corrosive effects of public cynicism -- "We live in a time
of too much cynicism," Cisneros said. Whatever the cause,
public cynicism in day-to-day life threatens America's ability
to implement even the smallest of solutions to its problems.
"The truth is, after all the comprehensive solutions and
sweeping ideas, I've learned that the way to solve the biggest
problems is block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by
city," Cisneros said. "There is no substitute for the magic of
persistent, untiring, day-to-day work."
In his address, Cisneros cited four areas where America's
"reach for greatness meets some of its severest challenges":
Cisneros reflected on the on-going transition underway in our
welfare system, wholeheartedly endorsing the need for welfare
reform and the importance of work. But Cisneros argued that the
private sector and government need to take greater responsibility
for providing the poor the opportunity to take a job.
- Eradicating Homelessness -- The Clinton Administration is
successfully implementing the Continuum of Care approach to
homeless assistance, including an increase of federal funds
from $331 million to $931 million, allowing HUD to serve up to
14 times more homeless persons than in 1992.
The Continuum of Care strategy allows service providers to
reach more mentally-ill homeless persons and provides a level
of care that includes counseling, medication, job training and
a level of self-sufficiency.
The continuing challenge is to sustain federal funding, build
upon small-scale successes and maintain the will to fight
homelessness, Cisneros said.
- Changing the Face of Public Housing -- After decades of
neglect, more than 23,000 of the worst units of public housing
have been replaced during President Clinton's first term, with
the Administration committed to demolishing a total of 100,000
units by the end of the President's second term.
Small scale, townhouse and garden-style housing is replacing
the mammoth apartment buildings of the past. Civic buildings
including police and fire stations and day care centers are
being built on-site, with commercial development nearby. Anti-
crime efforts are making these communities safer.
Residents are being connected with employment and educational
opportunities. Public housing is once again becoming a place
where people can live for a short period of time while they
prepare to move up the economic ladder.
- Addressing the Shortfall in Affordable Housing -- In a less
optimistic assessment, Cisneros warned that America is facing
an affordable housing crisis, with more working families than
ever living in substandard or overcrowded conditions and
paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent.
Congress has responded to this crisis in the worst way
possible, Cisneros said. Over the past three years, the
Congress has broken a 20 year, bipartisan commitment to
increasing the number of new rental vouchers to help America's
poor and working poor families afford more decent housing.
While condemning discriminatory housing practices that still
keep minorities out of many neighborhoods, Cisneros also cited
a recommitment to ensure fair housing by both the private
sector and the federal government over the past four years.
- The Importance of Cities -- One of the most hopeful trends in
this country is the miracle of rebirth in many American
cities, Cisneros said. After 25 years of decline, the cities
are beginning to relate to the new American economy.
This transformation is born out of the realization that the
economy is now a metropolitan economy. To remain competitive,
cities are doing things differently, Cisneros said. He cited
programs providing inner-city residents with suburban jobs;
the creation of new middle-class housing in the central city;
a broader availability of access to capital that is helping
communities; and better transportation systems that are making
physical distances less daunting.
"As we ask welfare recipients to be responsible enough to take
a job, we as a society must be responsible enough to provide the
jobs," Cisneros said. "We must build the kind of economy that will
provide the paychecks. And to accomplish that may require the
government to play a bigger role in terms of public service jobs
In arguing this point, Cisneros cited government policies that
provide educational opportunities to millions of Americans and --
through the tax code -- homeownership opportunities for the middle
class. Cisneros called for the same government dedication to
providing jobs and job training for the millions of lower-income
Americans making the transition from welfare-to-work.
"Let us remember that we can create a positive model of
government that leaves no one behind as it extends opportunity to
all," Cisneros said.
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