Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Press Conference with the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities

Washington, DC
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thank you, Sandi -- for that introduction, and for your remarkable leadership at HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing. 

Let me also thank my good friend, Michael Kelly, for his leadership of CLPHA and bringing integrity and the ability to get results to his job in Philadelphia.

And lastly, let me thank Lourdes Castro Ramírez, who I joined at Lewis Chatham Apartments last July and saw for myself the remarkable work she is doing for the people of San Antonio.

As Michael just said, we're here today to discuss CLPHA's report on the remarkable impact the Recovery Act has had not just helping us rebuild our public housing, but our economy.

But before I get to that, I'd like to share with you some HUD data hot off the presses that shows the outstanding job that America's PHAs have done in obligating the $4 billion in public housing capital funds the Recovery Act provided them. 

When President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, it required public housing authorities to draw down 60 percent of their funds within two years. 

Our data shows that 99.8 percent of public housing agencies not only met the goal -- but blew past it, expending 82 percent of these funds in the first two years.

Indeed, communities are well on their way to reaching the next target of expending 100 percent of these funds by next year's deadline. 

Of course, the challenge wasn't just to invest these funds quickly -- but smartly and effectively.

And housing authorities rose to the challenge. To date, public housing capital funds provided through the Recovery Act have renovated and developed nearly 380,000 publicly owned affordable homes.

And as this report sponsored by CLPHA, NAHRO and PHADA shows, the impact these funds are having on our economy is equally extraordinary.

Indeed, this report finds that for every dollar the Recovery Act invested in public housing, it is generating more than two more in indirect economic activity. 

It finds that for every million dollars the government has invested, an additional $700,000 is being leveraged. That means these funds are spurring communities to find the other public and private dollars they need to make improvements on an even bigger scale and put even more people to work.

Indeed, most important of all, this report finds that for every million dollars the Recovery Act invested in public housing, 26 jobs are created.

By my calculations, that would mean over 100,000 jobs have been created by the total investment in public housing.

Any way you slice it, that's real bang for the buck. And that's smart government.

Of course, now, we need to move forward to win the future. 

As big of an impact as the Recovery Act has had, helping us create 12 straight months of job growth in the private sector, we still have more to do.

Right now, we are losing 10,000 units from our public housing stock every year -- and by the time I finish speaking, we will have lost another.

That's why later this morning, I'll be talking with CLPHA members about ways we can preserve these homes for the 21st century.

Some of the issues we'll be discussing include finding new ways of supporting our communities' ability to preserve their public housing, we'll discuss how HUD can make it easier for owners with a history of successfully preserving affordable housing to share their expertise with other communities, and we'll discuss what new revitalization tools they need and how we can cut through red tape that stands in the way of preservation. 

Right now, HUD has thirteen different deep rental assistance programs, each with its own rules, administered by three operating divisions that contract with more than 20,000 separate entities.

These rules prevent communities from building something as simple and important as a grocery store on public housing property.

These homes are some of our country's most precious assets -- and they need to be preserved and strengthened for the future if, as the President has said, we are going to win the future.

And if the study CLPHA is releasing today on the Recovery Act is any indication, we have the teams we need--at the federal level and at local levels across the country--to do it.

Thank you. And with that, let me pass this off to Lourdes Castro Ramírez.


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