Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Atlanta BeltLine Tour and Press Availability

Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, May 21st, 2010

Andre and Katrina -- thank you for welcoming us to your home this morning.

Thank you, Congressman Lewis and Mayor Reed, for showing us around Atlanta -- and for your commitment to making strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities a reality for families across Atlanta, and particularly here in the Pittsburgh neighborhood.

And to HUD's own Karen Jackson Sims and the entire Region IV team -- thanks for your great work.

Finally, let me recognize Brian Leary--the President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.--whose organization is the driving force behind the planning and implementation of one of the most comprehensive and sustainable urban redevelopment efforts in the nation: the Atlanta BeltLine.

Indeed, I'm here on Welch Street to see the results of this innovative economic development strategy--and President Obama's economic recovery initiatives--for myself.

You all know the story of Pittsburgh. Of how, for years, it's been one of Atlanta's most blighted areas -- with one of the region's highest foreclosure rates and vacant, abandoned homes, leading to further decline in the neighborhood.

But you also know that despite its decline, the Pittsburgh community has remained tight knit and strong -- and has joined forces with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to revive the neighborhood and capitalize on its existing assets, including two high-performing public schools, the Center for Working Families, and multiple community centers.

Indeed, the redevelopment taking place in Pittsburgh is emblematic of the type of collaborative, community-driven revitalization work that's happening citywide as part of the Atlanta BeltLine project.

With the Administration's own Neighborhood Stabilization Program, having helped acquire eight homes right here on Welch Street, Pittsburgh has begun to recover.

Across the country, our Neighborhood Stabilization Program has funded about $6 billion to help revitalize communities across the country.

I've seen for myself the impact that these funds have had.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, I saw how NSP saved a subdivision where only two years ago half of the homes were in foreclosure.

And thanks to NSP, Habitat for Humanity has already worked with the local government to buy up those homes, renovate them, and re-sell them to new buyers.

In Detroit, which has been hit not just by the recent foreclosure crisis, but longer-term distress--where there are literally thousands of vacant and abandoned properties--Neighborhood Stabilization provides a different kind of opportunity.

With these funds, Mayor Bing has put in place a three year plan to target 10,000 properties for demolition -- to expand urban farming and land banking for future redevelopment.

And because of our NSP investments, the first two years of Detroit's initiative are fully funded.

For cities like Atlanta, who face difficult decisions in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and an era in which housing finance encouraged sprawl, NSP dollars provide a real opportunity to fundamentally re-think land use and better link housing investments with jobs, schools, and transportation.

To ensure that communities can benefit from these types of investments, this week, I was proud to announce that the Administration is asking Congress to provide additional funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization program -- and that we'll be reallocating approximately $1 billion of the first round of NSP funds to drive more resources to these hardest hit communities.

I look forward to working closely with partners in Congress like Congressman Lewis to ensure that this increased NSP funding gets to the communities that need it most.

And because our vast network of housing counselors continues to be one of HUD's greatest strengths when it comes to helping prevent homes from being foreclosed on in the first place, we are asking Congress for additional funding for housing counseling as well.

Despite the challenges we see around us today, the truth is that our housing market, like our economy, has begun to turn the corner.

In the last year, we've seen an increase in home equity of over one trillion dollars. Thanks to the Obama Administration's comprehensive approach, we've reversed a 30 straight month decline in housing prices. And we've helped stabilize the market -- and even begun improving it.

But we can't forget those neighborhoods left in the wake of this crisis, like Pittsburgh here in Atlanta -- where abandoned and vacant properties prevent economic recovery from reaching every family in every community.

That's what this effort is about, and it's why I'm so pleased to be working with Mayor Reed and Congressman Lewis to make it possible.


Content Archived: February 23, 2017