Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Philadelphia Housing Authority Warnock Street Grand Opening

Philadelphia, PA
Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Thank you so much, Senator Specter. It's great to be in Philadelphia with Senators Specter and Casey and Congressman Brady – each of whom represent Philadelphia families with such conviction in Washington.

And I'm pleased to join Mayor Nutter and Carl Greene as we celebrate the grand opening of Warnock Street.

In so doing, we not only highlight our shared commitment to public housing and ensuring every American has a safe, decent place to call home – but also to laying the foundation for the clean energy economy we need.

Indeed, with buildings accounting for 40 percent of our carbon emissions—half of which is our residential buildings—HUD, our public and assisted housing and its residents are poised to play a big role in making that possible.

And the Administration is nurturing the relationship between housing, energy savings and job creation through investments in the Recovery Act.

Back in March, HUD announced that $4 billion in Recovery Act Capital Funds would go to over 3,000 public housing authorities throughout the nation.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority received one of the largest public housing formula grants in the nation and the country's third largest competitive grant – $126 million in all.

Already, the Authority has already awarded more than $100 million to local contractors, creating jobs, redeveloping 500 blighted properties, renovating and weatherizing some 7,000 units of affordable housing and making 300 units energy efficient, 100 of which are already complete.
These kinds of investments are powerful vehicles for economic recovery because they work quickly and create jobs where they are needed most.

But as this development shows, Philadelphia wasn't waiting to start greening its public housing. With a green roof that reduces water-runoff and improves energy efficiency, Warnock Street will lead to lasting neighborhood benefits that save money for us all.

Last year, the Philadelphia Housing Authority spent almost a third of its HUD operating subsidy on utilities.

HUD spends about $5 billion every year on energy for our public housing and Section 8 operations alone.

Saving just 5 percent per year, could generate $1 billion in savings over the next 5 years. That's $1 billion that could be going to more affordable housing, better public schools, more accessible child or health care.

Properties achieving 20 to 30 percent greater energy efficiency yield cost savings that are reinvested back into the property or accrue directly to low-income residents in the form of utility bills or other savings. So, these kinds of investments make a big difference.

President Obama is committed to making green building an engine of economic growth, jobs and opportunity in communities across the country – lowering greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs and reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

Making that possible will require the leadership of people like Senator Specter, who is not only a critical member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over HUD's budget, but also a key partner as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. He will be a key player in working to pass comprehensive climate legislation that will put America in control of our energy future, make us more energy independent and create jobs.

It will require, as Senator Casey has so persuasively argued, a commitment to training a new generation of professionals, not simply ready to build these technologies, but to install, repair and maintain them – mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers who will pioneer the first wave of green technologies.

Ensuring we give them that chance starts in our public housing. It starts here at Warnock Street. So, thank you for this opportunity. I'd be happy to take any questions.


Content Archived: February 23, 2017