Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Mountain View Press Conference

Anchorage, Alaska
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thank you. I want to thank Mayor Sullivan for his leadership and Carol Gore for her remarkable work with the Cook Inlet Housing Authority.

Most of all, I want to thank Senator Begich, without whom the success story that we're celebrating today would not have been possible.

Today, we announce 61 grants, totaling $132 million, bringing HUD's investment in Native American and Native Alaskan communities across the country under the Recovery Act to a half billion dollars.

With this announcement, all Native American Housing Block Grant Recovery funds are now awarded - in the hands of the communities that need it most and putting people to work.

It's great to be in Alaska this week and here at Bliss Street Village Town Homes where some of that funding is already making a difference. And I'm really here for three fundamental reasons.

First and foremost, to listen - to the broad set of challenges and opportunities facing the small towns and rural communities that President Obama and I believe are so integral to our values as Americans - and to the fabric of American life.

But I'm also here to share some of the Administration's ideas about how we can work together to nurture strong, robust, and sustainable communities.

Lastly, I'm here to report back to the President about the state of Alaska's communities and what we in the Administration can do to strengthen them - to create a geography of opportunity in America where our futures are never determined-and our choices are never limited-by where we live.

We all know the story of Mountain View. A decade ago, this community had fallen into serious decline. Its residents had the lowest incomes in all of Anchorage. It had one of the highest crime rates. And it was filled with blight and deteriorating homes.

Today, that's all starting to change.

Today, Mountain View has a brand new Clark Middle School.

The Mountain View Branch Library is back, and expanded.

The first banking institution located in Mountain View in decades is under construction. And new and renovated housing with award-winning design is showing up throughout the neighborhood.

Most important of all, is the real sense of community here.

How did it happen?

It happened because of the vision and leadership of local leaders across the city - leaders like then-Mayor Begich and Carol Gore, for whom Mountain View was her first neighborhood.

For Carol, bringing Mountain View back from the brink was a matter of personal pride.

Well, I'm proud as well.

From Community Development Block Grant funding that helped make possible the library, a recreation center and the Alaska Museum of Natural History, to the recent allocation of Neighborhood Stabilization funds that have allowed Mountain View to develop 16 units of affordable rental housing for low income families, it was HUD funds that sparked this neighborhood transformation in many ways.

In all, a $14 million investment made by HUD has been leveraged into a commitment by public and private partners that is well over a $100 million, ensuring our collective investment serves everyone in the Mountain View community.

And we're not done yet.

Today, I'm thrilled to announce that we're making available to communities in Alaska and across the country the final installment of funding for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program under the Recovery Act - $132 million.

Tomorrow I will be visiting Bethel, which is receiving $5 million of these funds.

Already Cook Inlet Housing Authority has received a $5 million grant of its own from this program - funds that are helping with not only the demolition of the property where we stand today, but more importantly, with the construction of 10 new affordable homes that will be built in its place.

Indeed, these funds will allow revitalization efforts here in Mountain View to continue - efforts that have helped this community reduce the cost to the city for fire, police, and safety, improve school performance, and perhaps most importantly of all, change the way people see a community like Mountain View - from a neighborhood of last resort to a neighborhood of choice.

So, this is a great day for me - to not only see for myself the challenges faced by the Mountain View community and what's being done to face them, but also to bring back to Washington the kind of change we so clearly need at a moment like this.

Thank you - and I'd be happy to take any questions you may have.


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