Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan Announcing a HOPE VI Award for Sheppard Square

Louisville, KY
Monday, May 23, 2011

Thank you, Manfred, for that introduction and for all you do to provide affordable housing for Louisville's families.

I'd also like to recognize Councilman David Tandy and Mayor Greg Fischer for their leadership of this fine city.

And thanks to Congressman John Yarmouth, who has been a champion of this development from the beginning.

It's an honor for me to be here today as we announce $22 million to revitalize the Sheppard Square public housing development.

Part of a $152 million investment around the country through the HOPE VI program to transform distressed public housing into successful, mixed-income communities, this funding will help make Sheppard Square an anchor and an asset for Louisville for decades to come.

But before I begin, I want to say a word about Davion Powell, a three-year old boy who just over a week ago was killed by a stray bullet in the 550 Apartments, a public housing complex not far from here.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today.

This tragedy reminds us that we can no longer accept the status quo in our poorest neighborhoods.

It reminds us in the starkest, most heartbreaking of terms that when we can predict the health, economic, and educational outcomes of children based not on their family's economic status, their educational backgrounds, or their talent, but on their zip codes, we are not living up to America's promise.

Indeed, we're here today because communities like Louisville have shown us that we don't have to accept those outcomes for our children.

In developments like the one right here in Liberty Green, we've seen how communities can use tools provided by the HOPE VI program to revitalize not just public housing, but a whole neighborhood.

Pioneered by former HUD Secretaries Jack Kemp and Henry Cisneros and with strong bipartisan support, HOPE VI has created nearly 86,000 homes in healthy, mixed-income communities that were once troubled by distressed public housing.

Just as importantly, it's raised the average income of residents by 75 percent or more.

And HOPE VI has leveraged twice the federal investment in private development capital, forging the public-private partnerships that our communities need and ensuring American taxpayers get the most "bang for the buck."

That's the kind of transformation I'm confident we're going to see at Sheppard Square, which I just had the opportunity to see for myself.

Through HOPE VI, Sheppard Square will provide more than 450 homes for local families -- from affordable rental homes to opportunities for sustainable homeownership.

Of course, as Mayor Fischer knows, a healthy neighborhood depends on more than stable housing. 

That's why Sheppard Square's plan will help local partners provide high-quality early education for children up to 8 years old, work to end the cycle of poverty by giving single-parent students the housing and support they need to graduate from college, and transform Hancock Street into a transit-oriented boulevard capable of attracting jobs.

We've learned from innovative cities like Louisville that the most successful HOPE VI developments are closely linked to school reform, to revitalizing other distressed housing in the neighborhood, and the retail stores and small businesses every community needs to thrive. 

It's communities like this one that have inspired us in the Obama Administration to build on HOPE VI with our Choice Neighborhoods initiative.

By transforming all distressed housing in a neighborhood, and tying this transformation to the Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods initiative, Choice Neighborhoods will ensure there is stable housing, quality learning opportunities, and quality job opportunities at the center of these communities.

Only then will children have access to the stable housing, strong neighborhoods, and good schools we need to out-educate our competitors and win the future.

As President Obama has said, "If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can't just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community."

Beginning that healing process is what today's announcement is about.

The families of Sheppard Square deserve nothing less -- and that's why I'm so honored to be with all of you today.


Content Archived: February 23, 2017