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HUD No. 02-087
(202) 708-0685
For Release
July 31, 2002

Salvadoran Housing Official Got Inside Look at Block Grant Program

WASHINGTON - Xenia Hidalgo de Panameno, an official from El Salvador's Vice Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, has completed a successful three-month stay at HUD. The San Salvador native came as part of the American Fellows Exchange Program.

The program, announced by President Bush in April 2001 at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec, is part of an overall commitment to promote mutual understanding and excellence in government throughout the Western Hemisphere. HUD was one of the first three agencies to participate in the initiative, which allows for reciprocal exchanges of up to one year of outstanding mid- to senior-level officials in government agencies of participating countries.

Hidalgo, whose participation was acknowledged by President Bush when he visited El Salvador in March 2002, became HUD's first American Fellow after Salvadoran officials expressed an interest in American housing policy and program management, specifically in how the U.S. addresses housing options for low-income individuals. Hidalgo worked with the Office of Community Planning and Development's HOME Block Grant Program.

"I am extremely grateful to the Bush Administration for the establishment of the American Fellows Program," said Hidalgo, who will resume her post in the Housing Ministry's Office of Strategic Planning upon returning to El Salvador. "I look forward to the opportunity to apply all I have learned while at HUD to my position in El Salvador."

Hidalgo does not represent HUD's only link to El Salvador. Following devastating earthquakes early last year, the Department provided assistance in building earthquake-resistant homes as well as repairing infrastructure. In June 2001, Secretary Martinez visited the Central American nation to raise international awareness of the country's continuing need for assistance.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.



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