Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Miller Homes HOPE VI Announcement

Trenton, New Jersey
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Thank you, Herbert -- for that warm introduction and for your leadership of the Trenton Housing Authority.

Let me also recognize Senator Lautenberg and Senator Menendez, as well as Congressman Holt. It's an honor for me to be here today to provide funding that will help make this housing complex an anchor and an asset for this community for decades to come.

I'm proud to announce $22 million to revitalize the Miller Homes public housing development -- part of a $113 million investment around the country through the HOPE VI program to transform distressed public housing into successful, mixed-income communities.

Over the last two decades, the HOPE VI program has become one of our country's most powerful weapons to fight concentrated poverty.

HOPE VI made the Federal government a partner with local housing authorities and communities, emphasizing a mix of incomes uses, incorporating supportive services and leveraging financing.

Indeed, the $6 billion we have invested in HOPE VI has leveraged twice that amount in additional development capital -- $12.3 billion.

That's a strong return for the taxpayer, but even more important is that it has also ensured the investment of many parties in the success of the program.

And the results are clear. As cities nationwide have seen for themselves, HOPE VI has changed the face of public housing -- producing substantial declines in neighborhood poverty, crime, and unemployment, and increases in income, property values, and market investment.

That's the kind of transformation we're going to see at Miller Homes -- the Trenton Housing Authority's first ever HOPE VI grant. When complete, this development will provide over 300 homes for local families -- affordable rental homes, as well as opportunities for sustainable homeownership.

One of the reasons why Trenton was selected was because it understood the connection between housing and opportunity -- particularly educational opportunity.

From Charlotte, North Carolina to St. Louis, Missouri, we've seen that the link between successful housing and good schools is not just theory -- it's practice. And it's time to bring that practice to scale in neighborhoods across the country.

That's why, this year, HUD encouraged communities in the HOPE VI competition to connect housing redevelopment with early childhood education as a central component of their applications.

By partnering with local institutions to provide Early Childhood Education services to Miller Homes' children and their families, the Trenton Housing Authority shows that they get it. It's time the Federal government "got it," too.

"Getting it" means building on the success of HOPE VI with our Choice Neighborhoods demonstration, which would allow communities like Trenton to use the same mixed-use, mixed-finance tools that made Miller Homes' revitalization possible to transform all the housing in a neighborhood -- to connect these housing investments to other Federal, state, and local investments in schools, jobs, and transportation.

Because when you choose a home, you don't "just" choose a home. You also choose transportation to work, schools for your children, and public safety. You choose a community -- and the choices available in that community.

The Obama Administration is committed to helping America's most distressed neighborhoods tackle their toughest challenges -- whether it's crime and disinvestment, the lack of educational and economic opportunity, housing decay, or any other contributor to concentrated poverty.

Because if there isn't equal access to safe, affordable housing in neighborhoods of choice, there isn't equal opportunity.

And if seventeen years of HOPE VI has taught us anything, it's that building communities in a more integrated and inclusive way isn't separate from advancing social and economic justice and the promise of America -- it's absolutely essential to it.

It's inseparable from the idea that, in America, our children's hopes and our dreams should never be limited by where they live. Ensuring they never are is the goal of this investment. It's the goal of Choice Neighborhoods -- and indeed, of all the work we do together.

And with that, I want to recognize Senator Menendez.

As a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, he's been a leading voice for New Jersey families -- fighting to put an end to the kind of abuses on Wall Street that harmed so many families and communities nationwide. And there's no stronger advocate for affordable housing for families.

It's an honor to join Senator Menendez again.


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