Oral Testimony of Secretary Julián Castro
U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Hearing on FY2017 Budget Request for the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Thursday, March 10, 2016

As prepared for delivery

Chairman Collins, Ranking Member Reed, members of the Subcommittee - it's an honor to appear before you today to discuss HUD's Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2017.

The President understands that expanding access to quality and affordable housing will put more Americans on a path to prosperity. And our Budget honors his commitment to promote inclusive opportunity for all Americans. 

This proposal comes at a time of great momentum for our nation's economy. Over the past six years, businesses have added 14.3 million jobs - the longest streak of private sector job growth on record. 

Now we must provide every person with the chance to share in this promise. And at HUD, that starts with helping more folks to secure a safe and affordable place to call home. 

Today, one-quarter of American renters spend more than half their incomes on housing. Too many families are forced to cut back on food, healthcare, and other basic necessities just to put a roof over their heads. 

That's why the President's Budget proposes to increase HUD's funding to $48.9 billion, $1.9 billion over the enacted level for Fiscal Year 2016. 

85 percent of our Budget would go solely toward renewing rental assistance for nearly 5.5 million households. 

But we've also taken strong steps that maximize our remaining resources to achieve bold goals such as ending homelessness in America. 

We've made great strides in the six years since President Obama introduced his Opening Doorsinitiative. The best example of this? A 36 percent decline in veteran homelessness between 2010 and 2015. 

I want to thank this Committee for your continued support of HUD-VASH. This success proves that by working together, we can fully fulfill the President's vision.  And we can help the next generation to escape the cycle of homelessness.

HUD's Family Options Studyshows that rapid rehousing and Housing Choice Vouchers are the most effective solutions for families with children experiencing homelessness. So we've asked for a historic $11 billion investment in mandatory spending over the next 10 years that would use these tools to assist approximately 550,000 families. 

HUD is also committed to empowering Americans through housing mobility. We've requested $20.9 billion for our Housing Choice Voucher program, an increase of $1.2 billion from the enacted level for Fiscal Year 2016. This would provide 2.2 million families with the chance to move into neighborhoods with better schools, safer streets, and more jobs - and stay there for the long-term. 

But HUD's mission extends beyond housing mobility. Too many communities remain segregated by race and by income, and too many Americans see their futures limited by the zip code where they are born. 

So HUD's Proposed Budget makes vital investments in underserved communities. It contains $200 million for Choice Neighborhoods, which transforms areas of concentrated poverty by creating quality, mixed-income housing, improving public safety, and sparking growth for local small businesses. And $50 million for our Rental Assistance Demonstration program to help make crucial repairs in 25,000 units of HUD-assisted housing.

We're also taking decisive action to protect children from the dangers of lead-based paint. We've requested $110 million for our Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and $2.07 billion for Public Housing Administrative Fees which can be used by PHAs to, among other things, increase inspections and ensure property owners control lead hazards. And we're improving our policies to mirror the CDC's lead safety guidelines.  

Finally, the President knows many Native communities face significant barriers to opportunity. So this Budget asks for $780 million to improve housing and development on Native American lands, including $20 million for youth programs like community centers and Head Start facilities. And we continue our commitment to providing safe, affordable homes through our Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program.

The President's Budget advances a fundamental belief: that all Americans deserve a fair shot at achieving their dreams. I look forward to working with this Committee to fulfill this mission, and to use housing as a platform that sparks greater opportunity for the American people. 

Thank you.


Content Archived: February 9, 2018