Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Green Retrofit Groundbreaking

Gibson Plaza Apartments
Washington, DC
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thank you so much. It's great to be here with Mayor Fenty, Congresswoman Holmes-Norton, Councilman Evans and everyone else working to ensure that Shaw families have a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home.

It's an honor for me to be with all of today to celebrate the preservation and modernization of a neighborhood anchor like Gibson Plaza Apartments -- using over $2 million in green retrofit awards through President Obama's Recovery Act.

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.

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 I'm here at the Gibson Plaza today because it's clear that the Recovery Act is still going strong. While the Recovery Act is already responsible for about 3 million jobs to date, the job impact of the Recovery Act will continue to climb well into the fall and through the end of the year. In fact, we're right on track to hit 3.5 million Recovery Act jobs by the end of December.

That's 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, investing in the communities that need it most.

That's why laying the foundation for a clean energy economy was a fundamental principle underlying the Recovery Act.

Indeed, of the nearly $14 billion in Recovery Act funds HUD is providing to communities across the country, nearly a third can be used for "greening" America's public and assisted housing stock.

By the end of this summer, HUD will have rehabilitated 230,000 housing units.

The $2 million in funding provided to green Gibson Plaza Apartments is part of a $250 million effort to green HUD-assisted housing across the country.

Thanks to the Recovery Act, the Green Retrofit Program will create thousands of green jobs as workers retrofit older federally assisted multi-family apartment developments with the next generation of energy efficient technologies -- helping landlords and property management companies cut heating, air conditioning and water costs by installing more efficient heating, cooling and water systems.

These funds encourage the use of recycled building materials and can be used for a wide range of retrofit improvements.

Here at Gibson Plaza, this funding will help install a rooftop solar panel, energy efficient windows, appliances, fixtures and other features.

For residents, the benefits are clear. These upgrades will not only help save our environment - they will help save money by cutting utility costs by 20 percent.

Just as importantly, these funds will create 75 good-paying green jobs right here in the nation's capital -- jobs that can never be sent offshore.

Indeed, at the same time Recovery Act funds like these are making homes healthier and more energy efficient, they are preparing the new generation of professionals--from mechanics and plumbers, to architects, energy auditors, and factory workers building solar panels and wind turbines--we need to design, install, and maintain the first wave of green technologies.

Lastly, let me say -- this is more than just an investment in a building. It's a celebration of home -- and of what these homes have meant to this neighborhood in particular. A neighborhood that was torn apart in the aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination.

It's a celebration of neighborhood organizations like the First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church Housing Corporation -- which quite literally helped this neighborhood and others in cities across the country rise from the ashes of tragedy and despair.

It's a celebration of community engagement and leadership -- of people like Reverend Walter Fauntroy and Marjorie Lawson and Reverend Gibson, and of people like Barbara Curtis, Reverend Bell, and Deacon Gilliard who carry on their legacy.

And so, this investment is about ensuring that this housing continues to be an anchor for this community.

It's about President Obama's commitment to forging local partnerships with the people who know our neighborhoods best.

And it's about understanding that when we invest in housing, we also invest in the people who live in that housing.

That is what the Recovery Act is about -- and it's why I'm so very glad to join you all today. Thank you -- and God bless.


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