HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-143
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 Thursday
Or contact your local HUD office June 22, 2000


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JERUSALEM – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who was sent to Israel by President Clinton, today joined Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Levi in signing an agreement to establish a Binational Commission on Housing and Community Development.

The Commission is the first of its kind between the United States and Israel.

The Commission will bring American and Israeli experts together to learn from each
other and to develop new ideas and projects that can be used to benefit both countries by: 1) expanding the supply of affordable housing; 2) helping increase homeownership opportunities; 3) creating jobs and helping businesses to expand as part of an effort to revitalize communities; and 4) making improvements in construction technology and architecture to allow housing to be built at a higher quality and a lower cost.

President Clinton issued a memorandum to Secretary Cuomo directing him to visit Israel and work to create the Binational Commission. During his three-day official visit to the Middle East, Cuomo is meeting with government officials, business leaders and others as he tours community development projects and housing development.

President Clinton said in his memorandum that the new Commission will be designed "to enlarge the framework for policy research studies on affordable housing and related community development, one of our most pressing domestic problems, and to strengthen relations with the State of Israel for the mutual benefit of the citizens of both countries."

Cuomo said: "The United States and Israel are both working hard to meet common housing and urban development challenges. Both of us must find ways to build more affordable housing, to create jobs and provide job training for people struggling to escape poverty, and to revitalize cities with more businesses, homes and families."

Minister Levi said: "I am pleased that today together with Secretary Cuomo we have laid the foundation for formal U.S.-Israeli cooperation in the areas of housing and community development. I am convinced that this agreement will serve as another building block in strengthening the close ties and friendship between our two countries."

The Binational Commission will be jointly chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Israeli Minister of Construction and Housing. Together, they intend to develop a work plan specifying the areas of cooperation and involving officials from both government and the private sector in project implementation.

The Understanding creating the Commission states that "cooperative activities initiated under this Understanding are to be conducted on the basis of equality, reciprocity, and mutual benefit."

The Americans and Israelis on the Commission will be experts active in housing policy, mortgage markets, residential construction technology, economic development, real estate, neighborhood revitalization, and related fields.

Other activities that the Commission will promote include: 1) more visits by additional groups of professionals and specialists from Israel to America and from America to Israel, to study in the partner country; 2) additional exchanges of information; and 3) joint conferences, seminars, and research projects.

Cuomo said HUD will host a study tour in July that will take officials from the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry, the Israeli Finance Ministry and "Amidar" – Israel’s largest public housing company – to several American cities to learn more about housing finance, public housing management, and building technologies.

The Israeli Construction and Housing Ministry will host a similar visit to Israel by American experts from the housing industry later this year.

HUD’s increased international efforts under Cuomo mark a resumption of wide-ranging international activities by the Department carried out in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other recent HUD international activities include assisting Central American and Caribbean countries in the aftermath of Hurricane Georges and Mitch by providing technical assistance for housing finance, building technologies and community development, working with South Africa on projects to spur homeownership, and working with China on a housing finance pilot project to help establish a secondary mortgage market and ultimately securitize residential mortgages.


Content Archived: December 13, 2009