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Remarks by Secretary Andrew Cuomo
HUD Budget Celebration

Washington DC
Wednesday, October 25, 2000

It is amazing when you think about how far we have come in four years.� What a difference four years can make.

When you think about where we were four years ago, they� were literally talking about eliminating the department.�� There was real talk about that.

When it was at that point, that was really a failure and a loss for all of us Democrats and� Republicans alike, it doesn't matter. Because the bottom-line is that we are in this field to go do good things, to do housing, to do urban development.�

And when you have to concede that the best we can do is eliminate the department, which is the vehicle to do good, what you're really saying is that we all failed. That government failed.� That the entire enterprise failed.� And that was a defeat for all of us.�

So four years later, when we celebrate being back in business, the best budget in 20 years, that's a victory for all of us.�

This worked because, first of all, the groups who honor us tonight worked. The home builders worked, the U.S. Conference of Mayors worked, the realtors worked, the housing advocates worked, and they put their differences aside, and they pitched in together.

They forgot that they were for a specific program -- CDBG versus Section 8 versus public housing -- and everybody pulled together.

The Congress pulled together.� Senator Mikulski, -- thank God for what you did for the HUD budget.� You have been amazing.

She made it happen. It's never easy with HUD.� It is never easy.� It really isn't.� There is not a big political engine behind it, there's not a lot of reward or accolades behind it. There's never enough money, there are always issues, there are always problems. And when you get a champion for HUD, it's someone who truly just believes in the mission.� And Senator Mikulski has done that.

Barney Frank has been great for us. Senator Sarbanes has been great. And it does take both sides of the aisle. Jim Walsh did� a great job. Jerry Lewis before him did a great job on the House side.

And I want to thank the HUD team, many of whom are here today, present and past. They never, never, never stopped pitching.� They never stopped fighting. It's always easy to give up, and just say "Okay, that's the best I could do." And they stayed in, every inning, and they delivered a great budget.

Now, the reason I say it's not over is because we've only just begun. We've only just begun.� We're just starting.� We made great progress, because we were starting at zero and we went to� 50,000, to 60,000,� and this year to 80,000, the best budget in 20 years.

But we have so much further to go.

5.4 million families need affordable housing. The home ownership rate is at its highest in history, but it's not as high as it can be. So we have more to do on the homeownership side, more to do on the affordable housing side.�

Lord knows we have more to do on the homeless side -- there's so much more to do there.

There's more to do on the predatory lending side, there's more to do on the discrimination side, fair housing, because discrimination is still alive and well in this nation.

And now, in some ways, we're just coming up to our strongest game, because now we have the strongest economy in history.

We're talking about a surplus and not a deficit.� You have a department that works. We don't have to have that same argument about whether or not we're helping or hurting. The department works, and it works in a bipartisan way.�

You put the functional department together with the best economy, together with the surplus, together with this Congressional team, together with these interest groups all working together, and there is no stopping this.

Thank you very much.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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