December 09, 2003
MARTINEZ TO STEP DOWN AS HUD SECRETARY
Led HUD During Record Years in Housing, Fought For Homebuyer Rights
WASHINGTON - Mel Martinez, the nation's 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, today announced he is resigning from the office he assumed on January 24, 2001. The resignation is effective at noon on Friday, December 12, 2003.
"It has been a great privilege to serve in the President's Cabinet and lead the 9,300 hard-working employees of HUD," said Martinez. "President Bush understands the importance of our work, and the many positive ways in which it is transforming families and communities. Together, we have expanded homeownership opportunities to more Americans and helped countless others find affordable housing in the communities of their choice."
Under the leadership of President Bush, Martinez put HUD's $32 billion budget to work to more effectively support the millions of Americans the Department serves. The Department has responded to tough housing challenges, homelessness, consumer protection issues and a multitude of public housing concerns and implemented innovative solutions to address each challenge.
- HUD launched the Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership in response
to the President's challenge to close the homeownership gap between minority
and non-minority Americans by creating 5.5 million new minority homeowners
by 2010. Since President Bush announced this goal in June 2002, more than
1 million minority families have become homeowners.
- President Bush proposed the $200 million American Dream Downpayment Act
to help more than 40,000 low-income families annually make the move into homeownership.
Congress passed the Act and it is awaiting the President's signature.
- The Department announced sweeping reforms to the Real Estate Settlement
Procedures Act to improve the process of obtaining home mortgages and reduce
settlement costs by as much as $700 for the average consumer.
- HUD developed 16 rules to address deceptive or fraudulent lending practices.
This includes rules establishing the Appraiser Watch program, improving Credit
Watch to identify problem loans and lenders earlier on, initiating new standards
for home inspectors, and prohibiting "flipping" in FHA programs.
- HUD stepped up efforts to combat predatory lending by targeting unscrupulous
lenders, increasing enforcement staff and resources, and coordinating with
other federal government agencies to fight abusive lending practices. The
result was the highest number of prosecutions, convictions and settlements
in the Department's history.
- The Department provided FHA mortgage insurance for over 2 million families
and provided billions in mortgage capital for FHA, the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service.
- President Bush proposed record funding levels of $2.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and $65 million for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program (SHOP). HOME is one of HUD's major tools for helping local communities meet housing-affordability needs, while SHOP reaches out to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity that are working to turn low-income Americans into homeowners through "sweat equity."
MAKING HOUSING AFFORDABLE
- The Department launched "America's Affordable Communities Initiative,"
a Department-wide effort to help communities across America identify and overcome
regulatory barriers that impede the availability of housing.
- HUD unveiled its Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse, a web-based forum offering
states, local governments, builders and developers nationwide the ability
to share ideas and solutions for overcoming state and local regulatory barriers
to the production of affordable housing.
- The Department reduced the premiums on FHA multifamily housing to increase
the number of apartment development loans. The premium reduction will insure
$43 billion in apartment loans, spurring the annual production of an estimated
42,000 additional rental units. Most of the apartments will serve moderate-income
families in underserved areas.
- The Department instituted a 25 percent increase in the loan limits for
FHA multifamily insurance. The increase was the first of its kind in a decade
and is generating affordable housing development throughout the nation.
- President Bush proposed record funding for enforcement of the nation's fair housing laws. This commitment was reinforced in April 2003, when HUD launched a $1 million educational campaign designed to raise awareness about fair housing. The "Accents" ad earned the prestigious National Ad Council Award for being one of the best ads of 2003.
ENDING CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS IN 10 YEARS
- President Bush reactivated the Interagency Council on Homelessness, and
as a result, 18 federal agencies are now working collaboratively to achieve
the goal of ending chronic homelessness in ten years. Today, nearly 60 cities,
including New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are following the Department's
lead and have either put 10-year homeless plans in place or are in the process
of developing them.
- For two consecutive years, President Bush announced the largest amount of homeless assistance in the nation's history - over $1 billion annually - to fund thousands of local housing and service programs around the country.
- HUD awarded the State of New York over $3.4 billion in Community Development
Block Grant funding to provide assistance for property and businesses affected
by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Department also asked
lenders not to start or threaten foreclosure for at least 90 days against
mortgagees who lost a family member in the 9/11 attacks.
- President Bush created the HUD Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
The Center is working to expand partnerships with local faith-based and community-based
social services providers that assist homeless, elderly and disabled individuals,
and those living with HIV/AIDS. HUD launched a Department-wide review of its
internal regulations to identify rules that may unnecessarily limit the participation
of faith-based and other grassroots organizations in HUD programs. Martinez
implemented changes that have leveled the playing field for all groups seeking
to serve the nation's poor.
- HUD awarded nearly $150 million to protect children and families from health
and safety hazards in the home, a $76 million increase since 2001.
- The Department worked to increase homeownership, rental housing opportunities, and community development activities in rural areas through its Rural Housing and Economic Development Program and innovative partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
IMPROVING PUBLIC HOUSING
- HUD worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce a prompt eviction
policy for those who engage in drug activity on or near public housing properties.
- HUD approved innovative public housing bond arrangements that have leveraged
over $600 million in the last three years. Public housing authorities (PHAs)
can now mortgage their properties to leverage private capital to address major
modernization needs. In Maryland, PHAs are forming consortiums to leverage
their collective resources and assets to attract private capital. Cities such
as Chicago, New Orleans and Baltimore are committing hundreds of millions
of dollars in federal grants to revitalize public housing neighborhoods.
- HUD assumed control of public housing agencies in New Orleans; Sanford, Florida; and the Virgin Islands in order to institute proper management practices and accountability, and improve living conditions for residents.
STREAMLINING MANAGEMENT, IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY, EMPHASIZING ETHICS
- President Bush and Martinez brought to the Department a new commitment
to ethics and accountability in the management of HUD programs, and among
its workforce and grant partners.
- Martinez initiated full implementation of the President's Management Agenda,
which included assessing the Department's management environment, building
a new management team and formulating viable strategies and plans to address
the major management challenges and program risks still facing HUD.
- The Department launched a new Management Plan process that has produced
strong integrated results and improved overall compliance, standards and efficiencies.
- HUD's first Human Capital Management Plan was drafted to address the human
capital issues facing the Department.
- HUD expanded ethics training and review processes, while increasing ethics
- The Department instituted aggressive monitoring controls in its Officer Next Door and Teacher Next Door programs after criminal charges were brought against buyers who purchased their homes fraudulently. As a result of these reforms, both programs are creating new homeownership opportunities for police officers and teachers by offering a 50 percent discount on HUD-owned, single-family homes in certain designated revitalization areas.
"I am indebted to the President and greatly honored to have served with the people of HUD," said Martinez. "HUD's staff boasts some of the most talented and dedicated public servants of any federal department. I am inspired on a daily basis by their compassion and by the sense of purpose they bring to their work."
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and 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.