|HUD No. 00-297|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||October 17, 2000|
CUOMO RECOGNIZED FOR TRANSFORMING HOUSING AND SERVING PEOPLE AND COMMUNITIES LEFT BEHIND
WASHINGTON Ė Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo made a forceful case for the rebirth of HUD as an essential advocate for the poor and homeless during an address to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
Secretary Cuomo delivered the speech last night when the NLIHC honored him and the Minnesota Housing Partnership for excellence in housing advocacy during the groupís 18th Annual Leadership Reception.
"Years ago, our critics considered HUD a poster child of bad government," said Cuomo. "But these past four years have demonstrated that, working together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors."
Cuomo was joined by Sheila Crowley, president of NLIHC and Cushing Dolbeare, NLIHC founder.
Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland praised Secretary Cuomo as an outspoken and effective advocate for housing the poor and working families. "I am pleased to see the National Low Income Housing Coalition recognize him for his good work. His list of achievements at HUD is really impressive --he has worked to reform HUD's management, he has fought for and won the largest HUD budgets in the past decade, he has helped preserve affordable housing in tight markets around the country, and he was instrumental in passing bipartisan public housing reform legislation two years ago, just to name a few. My congratulations to the Secretary for this well-deserved recognition."
HUD and the National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released reports on the affordable housing crisis in America. HUDís report to Congress earlier this year found 5.4 million American families either pay more than half their income toward housing or live in severely substandard conditions. NLIHCís recent report, Out of Reach 2000, claims a large percentage of low-income Americans, especially those earning minimum wage, are unable to afford decent rental housing.
"Secretary Cuomo is a skilled and passionate housing advocate," said NLIHC President Sheila Crowley. "He has raised the public consciousness and elevated the public discourse on the need to ensure that everyone has an affordable and decent place to live."
NLIHC Founder and Chair Emeritus, Cushing Dolbeare added "I am delighted we are honoring Secretary Cuomo's work in housing, but more importantly his energy and dedication to closing the gap between mainstream Americans and the people left behind."
Reflecting on the progress made at HUD over the past four years, Cuomo pointed to several benchmarks that have signaled a shift in momentum in housing issues:
- The nationís homeownership rate grows to historic levels with more than 70 million American families owning their own home Ė over 67% -- and dramatic increases in minority homeownership rates.
- FHAís Mortgage Insurance Fund enjoys the strongest financial condition since it was established in 1934, moving from a $2 billion deficit to $16 billion in the black.
- HUDís Hope VI program, which last week received Harvard Universityís Innovations in Government Award, dismantles run-down public housing projects in crime-ridden neighborhoods and replaces them with new, mixed-income housing. This is the third Innovations in Government Award won by HUD in the past five years.
- HUDís homeless programs expand through a comprehensive Continuum of Care approach.
- HUD management reforms streamline services to communities in need.
- The recent passage in the Senate of HUDís largest budget in 20 years signaling renewed confidence on the part of Congress in HUDís ability to serve the people.
Cuomo said, "while this nation is experiencing historic growth and while weíve made tremendous strides in confronting our most profound problems, we must not forget that there are still 600,000 people without homes and millions more who are living on the very edge of society."
Cuomo called upon the members of the National Low Income Housing Coalition to continue their passionate advocacy for the moral cause saying "Our partnership is the cornerstone of our future success. Where we go from here depends on the strength of your advocacy. We must keep up the fight in the name of every American family."