Prepared Remarks of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at a American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Public Housing Event in San Antonio

Lewis Chatham Apartments, San Antonio, TX
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thank you, Mayor Castro, for that introduction, and for your tremendous leadership of this city. And thank you all for joining us today. Id like to thank Don Babers, HUDs Regional Administrator and Richard Lopez from HUDs San Antonio Field Office for his excellent work, and Id particularly like to recognize Lourdes Castro Ramrez, the President and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority, and Ramiro Cavazos, the Authoritys Board Chair.

Theyve done so much to provide and maintain affordable housing for the lower-income residents of San Antonio, and I couldnt be prouder to be here with them today.

This is an important moment for our economy. It was only a year and a half ago that we were losing 753,000 jobs a month and we were staring at a second Great Depression -- the consequence, as the President said last week, of a decade of misguided economic policies, stagnant wages, and falling incomes.

And today--even after six straight months of private sector job creation--too many families across the country are still struggling, and some fear that the impact of the Recovery Act is winding down.

But Im here at the Lewis Chatham Apartments today because its clear in communities like San Antonio that the Recovery Act is still going strong. While the Recovery Act is already responsible for about 2.5 million jobs--including 205,000 right here in Texas--the job impact of the Recovery Act will continue to climb well into the fall and through the end of the year. In fact, were right on-track to hit 3.5 million Recovery Act jobs by the end of December.

Thats because summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with tens of thousands of projects getting underway and hundreds of housing developments just breaking ground across the country--creating jobs for American workers and economic growth for businesses, large and small.

For example, by the end of this summer, under President Obamas Recovery Act HUD will have rehabilitated 230,000 housing units.

Thats one part of the larger $13.6 billion Recovery Act investment HUD has made in communities around the country--to green its housing stock and revive stalled affordable housing projects while stabilizing neighborhoods and preventing homelessness.

This investment was targeted to the communities that need it most, such as the Lewis Chatham Apartments. Nearly two-thirds of dollars rehabbing or greening homes was invested in neighborhoods with median incomes under $30,000. And nearly half of these funds went to communities of color.

One of the most important Recovery Act investments was the $4 billion in public housing capital funds provided to over 3,000 public housing authorities throughout the nation--creating jobs, redeveloping blighted properties, renovating and weatherizing units of affordable housing and making homes energy efficient.

The latest numbers show that this program created or saved more than 10,000 jobs nationwide in 2010 alone--including 23 jobs here at Lewis Chatham to modernize this property, install energy efficient heating and lighting, new plumbing and other improvements that impact residents.

The $4 billion in Public Housing Capital Funds we have invested in communities like San Antonio around the country show that we can create jobs at the same time we help the families that need it most. But as big as its impact has been, we all know that the Recovery Act was a one-time investment.

That $4 billion at best meets a fifth of the capital backlog in public housing properties. But right now, we estimate there is $25 billion of private and other public capital sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be invested in public housing--but cant be because of antiquated federal rules.

Thats one reason the Obama Administration is proposing to Transform Rental Assistance, which would bring public housing into the 21st century and create hundreds of thousands of jobs--good jobs that cant be outsourced.

HUD estimates that this initiative would create more than 300,000 jobs--90,000 in the first year alone and more than 15,000 here in Texas.

At the same time TRA would create jobs, it would link public housing to investments in neighborhood schools, local businesses and other community anchors. Instead of being a problem for neighborhoods, this housing can be an asset to our communities that preserves affordable housing and increases property values in surrounding neighborhoods.

The Recovery Act showed that at the same time we put people to work, we can build more sustainable communities.

By Transforming Rental Assistance, we can build on the successes of the Recovery Act. We can lay a new foundation for a 21st century economy. And most important of all, we can create the good paying jobs families need today.

That is what this effort is about. And it is why I am so glad to be here today. Thank you all very much.


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