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HUD No. 99-62
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In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 (Victor Lambert)Tuesday
011 2712 342-3006 (Bruce Fharton)April 13, 1999
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PRETORIA, South Africa - The top housing officials of the United States and South Africa today launched a series of collaborative efforts to help the two nations develop effective housing and community development activities, and to deepen bilateral discourse on national housing strategies.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and South African Housing Minister Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele said the efforts will include: the creation of a joint United States/South Africa low-income lending models study program; collaboration to develop legislation to encourage lending in low-income communities in South Africa; and the adaptation of HUD computer software to assist with housing program monitoring and integrated program planning in South Africa. Cuomo is on a three-day visit to the nation.

Cuomo also announced that the U.S. government's South Africa Housing Guarantee Program, which most recently announced nearly $50 million in borrowing for infrastructure in low-income communities, in the future will be providing an additional $25 million guarantee of loans for mortgages and home improvements in low-income communities in South Africa.

Cuomo and Mthembi-Mahanyele highlighted the success of the program, which cooperates with private lenders in using loan guarantees.

Since 1994, US Agency for International Development has underwritten more than $175 million in guarantees from private U.S. lenders to South African financial institutions. Once fully committed, the $175 million will leverage approximately $465 million in loans for low-income households and communities in South Africa from private banks.

"In overturning apartheid, the people of South Africa won a historic victory for human rights," Cuomo said. "Now we want to help the people of this nation win their fight for greater economic rights, by creating the housing, jobs and businesses they need to build a better future."

The spirit of bilateral cooperation was captured in a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by Cuomo and Mthembi-Mahanyele. Under the MOU, South Africa and the United States will:

  • Collaborate to develop innovative housing finance programs in low-income communities that will create jobs, and help more South Africans become homeowners.

  • Foster community-driven housing and economic development activities.

  • Cooperate to develop laws, regulations and practices to combat discriminatory lending.

  • Share housing and economic development computer data bases, and information on housing legislation, tax codes and systems design.

Other initiatives include the facilitation of a network of U.S. and South African community development corporations; an exchange program for private mortgage lenders; and discussions on environmentally sound housing, as well as on the empowerment of women to ensure they have equal rights and access to housing and homeownership.

Cuomo began his visit Monday to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, and Cape Town, South Africa. In addition to visiting distressed urban and rural communities, the Secretary is meeting with housing officials, bankers, students, academicians, and community and business leaders to discuss how the two nations can jointly develop effective housing and urban development initiatives.

Cuomo's visit to South Africa is a follow-up to last February's meeting between Vice President Al Gore and South Africa Deputy President Thabo Mbeki at the Fifth Plenary Session of the U.S.-South Africa Bi-National Commission, held in Cape Town. The Commission was created in 1994 to revitalize the bilateral relationship between the United States and South Africa by facilitating cooperation in areas that are key to South Africa's development.

Cuomo and Mthembi-Mahanyele, who co-chair the Housing Committee of the Commission, presided over the first meeting of the Housing Committee today.

The strategic goals of the Commission include revitalizing South Africa's relationship with the United States, cutting bureaucratic red tape by focusing high-level attention on problems and opportunities in the bilateral relationship, facilitating cooperation in areas that are key to South Africa's development, and demonstrating the depth of the United States' commitment to South Africa.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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