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Remarks by HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
Opening Of New HUD Storefront Office, Atlanta

Monday, February 28, 2000

....I visited Centennial Place this morning. It's an outstanding example of what we are doing to transform public housing in this country. As proof that you can actually do this, that it's not just words, it's not just nice thoughts, Centennial Place says it all. FDR announced it, President Clinton transformed it. It will go in the history books and it should. Because it was a different vision, a different philosophy, and we made it happen - we made it happen - and it's working.

This storefront in the same way shows a different vision that we made happen and it's working, and every one of you were part of it. We came to HUD and we said, after talking to the employees, that we want to see a different HUD. We want to see a HUD that is a bureaucracy in Washington, DC telling local communities what they should do, that there is resentment, it doesn't work. We want to see a HUD that is partners with the local community that is listening, that is invited to the table, that isn't resented, that isn't pushed back, that isn't the regulator, when HUD shows up you know there is trouble, we wanted to be invited and welcomed into the local community.

It was a different vision for HUD, and we said we're going to do it, not just words. We have a different vision and we're going to do it. We want to get down with the community. We want to work with the community, we want to be accessible to people. We don't want to be frightening, we don't want to be alienated, the Federal Government is here, oh no, run for the hills, the Federal Government is here. No, we're here to help and we can work, we're not these nameless, faceless bureaucrats.

We're talented professionals who believe in what we do, who were trained in what we do, and we can do great things for you, just give us a chance. This storefront office shows that ship. When we first started talking about these offices in Washington, they said, oh, you can't do that. I said, why can't you do that, storefront office, ground level, why not? Well, that's not how the Federal Government works. I said, show me where in the regulations it says the Federal Government must be in a very tall office building, very far removed from the people it serves. Please show me that Federal law. Well, there is no law written but everybody knows you can't do it. No, everybody should know that you have to do it, and that's what this storefront says.

We want to re-introduce ourselves to you. You think you know HUD, no, you know the old HUD. We're the new HUD, we have a different look, we're more accessible, we're more up-to-date, and we are here to help you. We're here to serve you. That's what this storefront says, that you should have Centennial Place in this city showing what public housing was and can be. And you have this storefront showing what HUD was and what HUD can be, it's only fitting.

And now the best thing about this storefront, and this new office space, and this new posture, is it liberates you to do the job that you do so well. Our best asset at HUD has always been our employees. I began my job by saying, as HUD Secretary, if I can just liberate the talent and the energy of the HUD employees I will have done my job. I can't tell me how many people I came across who said, Mr. Secretary, just let me do what I came here to do, just let me help. I just want to help, I know what to do, I can make a difference, just let me do it.

This storefront, says come look at our HUD employees, come look at our HUD family, come join hands with us as partners, look what we can do. The more people see of you, the better people are going to feel about HUD. Thank you, God bless you, make us all proud, you already have. Thank you very much.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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