Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Refinancing and Project Rebuild Press Conference

The Retreat at Edgewood, Atlanta, Georgia
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thank you all for joining. Let me thank Mayor Reed for his leadership, as well as Jim Grawley, Mike Beatty, and Kappy Kelett deButs for their partnership.

Today, we're here today to see for ourselves how President Obama's American Jobs Act will put Atlanta families back to work rehabilitating homes, businesses and communities using tools that are bringing the Edgewood neighborhood back to life as we speak. 

Not long ago, this neighborhood, like so many across the country, was riddled with vacant, abandoned properties -- harming neighborhoods and families alike by dragging down property values.

But because of tools championed by Mayor Reed and other leaders like Congressman John Lewis, today Edgewood is a neighborhood on the comeback trail.

Thanks to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, nearly 125 people are on the job behind us -- and another forty will be very shortly.

Properties and lots that once sat vacant on the market for months and even years are being developed and rehabbed -- to be sold to middle class families that have worked hard to achieve the dream of homeownership and converted to the affordable rental housing families need. 

And those won't be the only families to see its benefits. 

Instead of watching the value of their home fall by $5,000 to $10,000 simply because they live on a block with a foreclosure sign, their home prices will be going up.

Indeed, three-quarters of communities across the country with targeted neighborhood stabilization investments have seen vacancy rates go down -- and two-thirds have seen home prices go up.

As a result, neighborhood stabilization efforts are on track to address nearly 95,000 vacant and abandoned properties and create nearly 90,000 jobs.

That's the kind of progress President Obama wants to build on in the American Jobs Act with a new "Project Rebuild."

Project Rebuild would use the same neighborhood stabilization tools that are transforming Edgewood to create nearly 7,000 jobs in Georgia.

And it would include a few important innovations, such as allowing for-profit organizations who have participated in neighborhood stabilization efforts like this one to be full partners in this transformation.

It would also provide the spark entrepreneurs need to start small businesses and create jobs by allowing for the rehabilitation of vacant commercial properties -- from retail to grocery stores.

Now, I'm sure most of the folks here know that a minority in the United States Senate voted again last week to obstruct the bipartisan ideas in the American Jobs Act. 

But I believe--and President Obama believes--that we can't wait to help homeowners and put more money in people's pockets.

That's why this Administration is doing everything in our power to act on behalf of the American people -- with or without Congress.

There are still millions of Americans who have worked hard and acted responsibly, paying their mortgage payments on time. But because their homes are worth less than they owe on their mortgage, they can't refinance.

That's not right. That's why President Obama directed his economic team and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to work with the private sector to knock down barriers to refinancing for these families.

Just yesterday, the FHFA announced changes that will help more responsible borrowers take advantage of today's low mortgage rates. These changes will knock down barriers such as closing costs and fees that can sometimes cancel out the benefit of refinancing altogether. 

And by creating more competition so that consumers can shop around for the best rates, these changes will save homeowners on average $2,500 per year -- that's the equivalent of a pretty good-sized tax cut.

Despite this important progress for homeowners, we still need Congress to step up and pass the Jobs Act. 

Because we can't wait -- to cut the payroll tax in half for 180,000of Georgia businesses.

We can't wait to prevent the layoffs of nearly 13,000 Georgia teachers and first responders.

We can't wait to create tax credits that would put 259,000long-term unemployed workers in Georgia back to work.

Well, with the American Jobs Act, the people of Georgia don't have to wait. 

Atlanta families have met their responsibilities -- it's time Congress met theirs. 

And by passing the American Jobs Act, they can -- creating more jobs and putting more money in people's pockets.

That's what Congress needs to do -- and that's why I'm so proud to be here in Atlanta today. So, thank you -- and let me pass this off to my good friend, Mayor Reed.


Content Archived: February 23, 2017