Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Heywood Wakefield Assisted Living Conversion Program Groundbreaking

Levi Heywood Memorial Library
Gardner, MA
Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank you so much, Matt (Walley), for that introduction.

It's an honor for me to be with all of you today as we celebrate the groundbreaking of the Heywood Wakefield Assisted Living conversion. And I'd like to thank Governor Patrick for his leadership, Mayor (Mark) Hawke, and Richard Walega from HUD.

But most of all, I want to thank Chairman John Olver, who knows how to get results for Massachusetts families in Washington.

We certainly think the world of him at HUD. As chair of the subcommittee that funds housing, Chairman Olver recently passed a budget that will help us accomplish so much at such an important time, from realizing President Obama's commitment to ending homelessness in America to putting the government back the business of building affordable rental housing.

Indeed, you can see that right here at Heywood Wakefield, as this community turns what was once a vacant mill into affordable housing for low-income seniors -- thanks to his efforts, $15 million in HUD funding and President Obama's Recovery Act.

Now, I know some of you may have read about how the Recovery Act is winding down. I've read those stories myself. But I'm here in Gardner today because it's clear the Recovery Act is still going strong.

Indeed, this summer has actually been one of the most active Recovery Act seasons 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.

And if you look around us here at Heywood Wakefield, you can see why the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said just last week that the Recovery Act has boosted the number of American jobs by as much as 3.3 million.

That's because you can see for yourself how Recovery Act investments are creating good-paying jobs and jumpstarting the construction and rehabilitation of the affordable housing development communities around the country need to sustain those jobs.

It's a far cry from where we were not too long ago. When our economy crumbled and our credit markets froze, so did the affordable housing investments states were able to make, stopping projects like the Heywood Wakefield rehabilitation dead in their tracks.

Within six months after the President signed the Recovery Act, which included $2.25 billion in funding nationwide--and over $59 million for Massachusetts--to get affordable housing developments just like this one moving again -- helping to resume construction on over 32,000 affordable homes across the nation, and putting construction workers back on the job.

Right now, 50 construction workers are employed here at Heywood Wakefield. That's in addition to the Recovery Act laying the groundwork for 30 assisted living workers who will have jobs here permanently once construction is completed.

But, of course, the biggest impact of the Recovery Act will be felt by the seniors who will live here. As a result of Chairman Olver's leadership and the leadership of Governor Patrick and Worcester Community Housing Resources to shepherd this development across the finish line, seniors will now have access to 78 affordable homes.

Of course, we all know we have more work to do.

That's why President Obama fought to save hundreds of thousands of jobs for teachers, cops and firefighters and continues the fight to pass a small business jobs bill the minority in the Senate has stood in the way of for months.

Like that bill, this investment is about jobs -- and unlocking the potential of the American people.

It's also about ensuring that low-income seniors have every opportunity to live in comfort and dignity -- and understanding that when we invest in housing, we also invest in the people who live in that housing.

But above all, it's about creating new tools to work with the community leaders who know our neighborhoods--and the people who live in them--best. Leaders like Congressman John Olver.

That is what this effort is about -- and it's why I'm so glad to join you all today. Thank you.


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