|HUD No. 07-003
January 16, 2007
HUD SECRETARY COMMEMORATES DR. KING'S LEGACY, DELIVERS KEYNOTE SPEECH AT CHURCH AWARDS BREAKFAST IN WASHINGTON, DC
WASHINGTON � Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by delivering the keynote address at the John Wesley A.M.E Zion Church's ninth annual MLK, Jr. Drum Major Awards Breakfast in Washington, DC. Jackson discussed his personal involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, recognized Dr. King's impact on HUD's mission of equal opportunity in housing, and said King's actions "helped America acknowledge its shameful past, and opened a door for a brighter future."
"Dr. King and the other great leaders knew the values they stood for. They knew those values would be just empty ideals unless somebody was willing to suffer for them. These leaders rose to prominence through hard work and a sense of purpose, and they got results because their cause was just," said Jackson, who at a young age participated in voter registration drives with Dr. King and marched across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama � an event that is famously known as "Bloody Sunday."
Speaking to more than 120 members of the church congregation, the Secretary highlighted President Bush's call to close the minority homeownership gap over eight years and create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010. HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research reports that halfway through that eight-year period, half the goal has been achieved, with more than 2.6 million minority families already taking out a mortgage on a new home, and minority homeownership increasing to 51 percent.
�Owning a home is the surest path we have toward self-sufficiency. If more black Americans put their money toward homes and other lasting assets, we would see a renaissance among our brothers and sisters in the black community� I see that families who own their own homes tend to have greater stability; they tend to be more involved in their neighborhoods and churches. And their children tend to do better in school," added Jackson.
In addition to inspiring civic responsibility, homeownership offers children a stable environment that influences their development in measurable ways. According to a Harvard University study, children of homeowners:
- Score 9 percent higher in math;
- Score 7 percent higher in reading;
- Are 13 percent more likely to graduate high school; and
- Have a 5 percent lower teenage pregnancy rate
The Secretary also noted that Dr. King's dreams of equality and justice are deeply woven into HUD's history and ongoing work, specifically the Department's fair housing and faith-based programs.
HUD awarded $258 million dollars to faith-based organizations last year, and there are more funds to come. No other federal agency comes close to the percentage of competitive grants that HUD distributes to faith-based groups.
The Department is in the process of streamlining its faith-based grant-application process. To encourage more groups to apply, HUD's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is training grass-roots organizations about the grant-writing process. Over the last three years, HUD has taught more than 30,000 people how to compete for public and private grant dollars.
�It might be madness to live with a dream, but it is total insanity to live without one," concluded Jackson.
For more information about MLK Day please visit www.whitehouse.gov.
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, and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov. For more information about FHA products, please visit www.fha.gov.