Oral Testimony of Secretary Julián Castro
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
Hearing on FY2016 Budget Request for the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

As prepared for delivery

Chairman Diaz-Balart, Ranking Member Price, members of the Committee - thank you for inviting me to discuss HUD's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget proposal. Our request honors President Obama's commitment to fostering neighborhoods that provide quality, affordable housing to families, seniors and disabled Americans, resources to those who need them, and opportunities for upward mobility for our residents.

This proposal comes at an important moment for our nation. Last year was the best year for job growth since the 1990s. And over the past 59 months, businesses have created 11.8 million new jobs - the longest streak of private sector job growth on record.

President Obama recognizes that accelerating that growth begins with an economy that strengthens the middle class and lifts more hardworking Americans of modest means into the middle class. That's why the President's Budget empowers HUD to continue building on its mission of supporting equitable community development, promoting responsible homeownership, and expanding access to affordable housing that is both free from discrimination and available to Americans with the lowest incomes.

By increasing our Department's funding level to $49.3 billion - nearly $4 billion more than Fiscal Year 2015's enacted level - the President's Budget helps us continue our progress toward each of these goals.

That begins with helping more of our fellow citizens secure a place to call home. HUD's Budget proposes more than $21 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. That would extend support to more than 2.4 million low-income families. Our Budget also fulfills the promise to restore vouchers lost to "Sequestration" - which will help 67,000 households. 

This support is critically needed. We recently released the findings of our nation's 2015 "Worst Case Housing Needs" Report to Congress. It found that 7.7 million low-income households that receive no housing assistance pay more than 50 percent of their income in rent, live in severely inadequate housing, or both.

HUD is also proposing funding that would effectively end chronic homelessness and make significant strides in our work to end homelessness among families and youth. With Congress' support through programs like HUD-VASH, we have seen dramatic reductions in homelessness among veterans. If our nation invests in the targeted programs we know work, we can make similar progress in tackling other forms of homelessness. Specifically, HUD's Budget would fund Homeless Assistance Grants at $2.5 billion - a $345 million increase over FY2015 levels. This funding would provide communities with the forms of housing and service investments they need to effectively end homelessness in all its forms.

We're also proposing new investments to prepare more low-income Americans who live in HUD-subsidized housing to successfully build careers and improve their lives. That includes $100 million to fund a dynamic, evidence-based initiative called Jobs-Plus. Research shows that Jobs-Plus improves incomes and opportunities for our residents, so we've put more resources toward this important effort. We're also making an investment of $85 million as part of HUD's Family Self-Sufficiency initiative. That would connect approximately 80,000 families to job and financial literacy training as well as important services like child care and transportation.

HUD is also reaffirming our commitment to preserve public housing. Each year our nation loses nearly 10,000 public housing units to disrepair. Fortunately, Congress and the President have come together recently to address this crisis through the launch of the Rental Assistance Demonstration project (RAD).

We need Congress' support again. We're asking that Congress eliminate the Rental Assistance Demonstration cap completely. This would spur billions of dollars in private financing for public housing preservation and create thousands of jobs in the construction trades and other industries. So far, the RAD program has facilitated the investment of nearly $500 million in private funds to repair our nation's public housing, and we're eager to work with you to secure our nation's affordable housing future.

Finally, HUD is committed to ensuring that neighborhood opportunity is broadly shared and that all communities - rural, tribal, suburban, and urban - prosper. To help meet that commitment our Budget requests $250 million for HUD's Choice Neighborhoods initiative - expanding a program with an impressive record of success. In fact, between fiscal years 2010 and 2013, the $351 million that HUD invested in these grants leveraged more than $2.6 billion of additional investment in extremely low-income communities.

As HUD commemorates 50 years of advancing policies that create opportunity for all, we're also creating a solid foundation for the next 50 years and beyond. The President's Budget helps us to do that, and I look forward to working with this Committee in continued partnership to building a future where every American can prosper. 

Thank you.


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