Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Homelessness Prevention and Recovery Act Event in Los Angeles, California

New Genesis Apartments, Los Angeles, CA
Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank you, Mayor Villaraigosa, for that introduction, and thanks to Skid Row Housing Trust and Mike Alvidrez for your outstanding work here in Los Angeles.

You leave no stone unturned and use every tool available to you when it comes to housing our most vulnerable citizens -- whether it's Public Housing, Project-Based Vouchers or new tools provided by the Recovery Act.

And I'd like to thank Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, a true champion for California families in Washington. It's an honor for me to be with all of you today here at the New Genesis Apartments.

New Genesis is a testament to how far we've come under the leadership of President Obama as we've worked to reverse a decade of failed economic policies.

Let's not forget that for the better part of that decade, instead of building an economy that worked for all Americans, we were cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires.

Let's not forget that, as a result of these failed policies, when we took office a year-and-a-half ago, we were losing 753,000 jobs a month -- the steepest jobs decline in decades.

But that began to change with passage of the Recovery Act, which has cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, rebuilt thousands of homes, highways, and bridges, and put 3 million Americans back to work, including 357,000 in California.

And while we still have a ways to go, we've now experienced eight straight months of private sector job growth.

Indeed, when President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, he said it would do three things: create jobs, helped those most harmed by economic crisis, and lay the foundation for long-term growth.

Here today, we can see very clearly that the Recovery Act is realizing all three of these goals at New Genesis.

After all, when it comes to those hardest hit by this economic crisis, no one was already suffering more than America's homeless. And no one was more vulnerable than those on the verge of falling into homelessness because they had lost their job or their home.

That's why the Recovery Act's creation of the $1.5 billion Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program was so important, providing nearly $30 million to Los Angeles alone.

The idea behind HPRP was simple: that rather than waiting for people to become homeless, we should help keep people in their homes in the first place or quickly find them the stable, permanent housing they need.

To date, HPRP has prevented or ended homelessness for well over a half million people more than 41,000 people in California and nearly a thousand families here in Los Angeles.

And as the U.S. Conference of Mayors reports, HPRP is fundamentally changing the way communities respond to homelessness at the local level.

HPRP is changing the way we respond at the federal level as well, paving the way for Opening Doors -- the first comprehensive federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. Opening Doors made ending homelessness the cause of not just HUD, but of the Federal government itself -- across all sectors and all agencies.

This plan will end chronic homelessness in this country -- we will finish the job you started!

The plan will also and end homelessness among veterans in five years, end homelessness for families and children within a decade, and put us on a path to ending all types of homelessness in the years to come.

Still, to realize President Obama's vision, we must confront a fundamental reality. Every member of America's homeless population shares one thing in common: they lack access to housing they can afford.

That's why another Recovery Act investment that we celebrate today was so important: the $2.25 billion to help get stalled affordable housing developments moving again.

Providing $325 million to California, this funding is helping resume construction on over 32,000 affordable homes across the nation, including more than 100 here at New Genesis.

Thanks to Recovery Act funding, not only are 220 construction workers finishing the job at New Genesis Apartments, with more than 200 additional jobs created by the economic activity generated here, but homeless individuals with disabilities and the chronically homeless will have access to the affordable housing they need.

Of course, we have more work to do, and given the toll a decade of misplaced priorities has taken on our economy, we know recovery won't happen overnight.

But let there be no doubt that the Recovery Act has proven something so important -- that with the right priorities, the right tools and the right partners, we can create jobs.

We can help our most vulnerable families.

And we can lay a new foundation for our economy that benefits all Americans.

That's why I'm so glad to be with you today. Thank you.


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