Remarks of Secretary Julián Castro
Wilson, NC Community Meeting
The Freeman Roundhouse
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

As prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon, everyone! Let's have another big hand for this community's champion in Washington - Congressman Butterfield.

Thank you, Congressman, for your leadership and for being such an outstanding partner to HUD as we invest in opportunity - here in North Carolina and all across our great nation.

I'm so happy to be in Wilson. For one, this is a place where you can get good barbecue and good iced tea. And as Congressman Butterfield can tell you, those are often hard to come by in Washington.

It's also great to be in the historic Freeman Roundhouse. I was so honored to join President and Mrs. Obama, as well as President and Mrs. Bush a little over a week ago for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. So it's wonderful to be in this historic site that's dedicated to preserving and promoting Wilson's rich African American heritage. And I love that it's named for an affordable housing pioneer - Oliver Nestus Freeman.

As we heard a few minutes ago from City Manager Goings, Wilson is more than a city with a vibrant past - it's also a city with a vibrant future. A city that's investing in the education of its youth and providing ladders of opportunity for their parents.

The internet touches just about every facet of modern life. Children who have it can get help with their homework or research assignments online. They can apply for college with the click of a mouse. Their parents can apply for jobs on the internet, or start their own businesses and connect with customers digitally.

So high-quality broadband isn't a luxury. More and more, we're seeing that it's essential to succeeding in the classroom and in the workplace.

The global economy is becoming more interconnected every day. And, fortunately, Wilson's leaders have determined that how much money a family has shouldn't decide whether or not they're able to compete in the 21st century.

That was certainly our guiding principle when HUD launched the Connect Home initiative last year. We want every single public housing resident in our nation to be able to connect to high-speed internet in their homes, and we're working with leaders in the nonprofit community and the private sector to make that happen. I'm proud that Connect Home helped inspire the partnerships here in Wilson that made this important expansion possible.

I want to recognize Mayor Rose, who's devoted his career to public service. The Mayor's great work on behalf of Wilson's families is evident all around.

I also want to acknowledge City Manager Goings and the folks at Greenlight - Wilson's community owned fiber optic network. Wilson is helping to bridge our nation's digital divide all while leading the way on municipally-owned broadband, and they deserve a lot of credit for showing that the internet is a public good that deserves public investment.

And I want to thank the incredible team at the Wilson Housing Authority, especially President Kelly Vick, for all they're doing to improve the lives of the folks who need someone in their corner the most. You're doing more than simply changing lives -you're helping to change the trajectory for an entire generation of Americans.

Please give yourselves a big hand - you deserve it.

Now, as exciting as this new broadband expansion is - and I can't wait to hear from young Christopher (Richardson) about what today's news will mean for him - this is just some of the progress that's happening here in the heart of eastern North Carolina.

Wilson also answered President Obama's call to tackle the homelessness crisis in our nation. In fact, when the President outlined his vision for an America without homelessness back in 2010, it was the first time our nation collectively said that we could do more than simply reduce homelessness, but that we could end it. And again, Wilson is leading the way.

Thanks to strong partnerships between the Wilson Housing Authority, local Continuum of Care partners, and HUD, 70 families who were homeless a year ago today have the security of a good home. If that doesn't deserve a round of applause, I don't know what does.

Those stories of personal triumph are possible because Wilson is a community that is refusing to leave anyone out or anyone behind.

That's what the Wilson 2030 vision is all about: Creating a future that's brighter for everyone because it's being built by everyone.

The broadband expansion is part of achieving that goal. So is the work to end homelessness in the city. And as we'll hear later today, those achievements build on the progress Wilson is making by investing in education, job training, affordable housing, and an economy that works for all its citizens.

HUD is proud to stand with the families of Wilson, and we're proud to work with you and invest with you to help this great city once again become the envy of North Carolina.

Now it's my distinct pleasure to welcome a man who's leading the charge for so much of the great progress we're seeing in Wilson's public housing communities and across this city:

Housing Authority President and CEO Kelly Vick.


Content Archived: February 9, 2018