Secretary Jackson in Memphis TN


Thank you, Secretary Spellings, for your passionate commitment to our children.

I'd like to start with the immortal words of an old Memphis disk jockey who played a little guitar:"Someday I'll go home again / and I know they'll take me in."

B.B. King was right. Today, in Memphis, we're home. And we're here to talk about what home means to the citizens of Uptown and all across America.

[Photo: Secretary Jackson, Secretary Spellings and Bobbie Wallace in front of new home]
HUD Secretary Jackson and Education Secretary Spellings meet Ms. Bobbie Wallace at her new home in Memphis, TN.

But first, let me echo what the Secretary said. A neighborhood cannot thrive without good schools. No federal grant or tax credit can save a community if its schools do not educate their kids and protect them from drugs and violence.

Secretary Spellings and I share a basic philosophy: if you challenge Americans with high expectations, they will meet them, whether it's studying for a test or saving for a home. And this search for excellence transcends income levels.

As the Secretary mentioned, we had a chance to visit Humes Middle School. They're doing a great job educating their children, from all backgrounds.

It's Elvis Presley's alma mater, by the way. [I believe it's down at the end of Lonely Street!]

A quality education should not be off-limits to a family of modest means. Nor should a quality home.

Bobbie Wallace's journey from public housing to rental housing to a home of her own is inspiring. It's right across the street from where she works, at St. Jude's Hospital.

Bobbie said that owning a home is something she always wanted. She calls it a "blessing." And it is a blessing.

It is proof of what we say at HUD: with good money management and sound habits, families of all income levels can achieve this American Dream.

Thank you, Bobbie, for joining us.

Today would not have happened without a strong partnership.

I'd like to thank the Uptown Partnership and the City of Memphis.

They saw 100 city blocks of housing developments, abandoned brownfields and overgrown vacant lots and said, We can do better. We can make something of this.

They had a vision of an area that could house residents of all income levels and, in turn, attract private businesses to the neighborhood. They saw a way to turn apathy and abandonment into action. And HUD wanted to help turn that vision into reality.

First, we provided the City of Memphis with $43 million in HOPE VI grant money, including $23 million for construction of single-family homes.

Ground was broken for this project in 2004. Today, hundreds of single-family homes and apartment units are in place.

Many are being sold at market rates, which contributes to the health of a community. In fact, a new commercial complex is coming soon, along with millions of dollars in road improvements.

This is good news. We want to break the outdated mold of concentrating poverty in one area and wealth in another.

It's not good for the economy, and it's not good for society.

At HUD, we want people to know their housing options-all of them-and to be confident they can choose a different path. We don't want them to feel trapped.

That's why we have increased funding for homeownership counseling under this President.

The President has also set a goal of 5.5 million new minority homeowners by decade's end. We're well on our way.

Since 2002, there has been a net increase of nearly 3 million minority homeowners. A great success story.

Finally, HUD is taking concrete steps to protect new and aspiring homeowners from predatory lenders.

As we transition families into new housing, we are in a transition period ourselves.

While there was much to admire about the old HOPE VI program, it has not produced housing in a timely enough manner.

Of the 237 grants awarded since 1993, only 70 communities have been completed.

Some localities sit on the money for years and years. More than $1.4 billion remains unspent in the pipeline. That's a shame.

We are working to educate housing authorities about other HUD initiatives that can get people into homes sooner and more efficiently.

Secretary Spellings spoke of the connection between a stable housing situation and a good education.

A study released last month by the Center for Housing Policy backs her up. It's just good common sense.

We must never forget that a child's first school is their home. And we must do everything in our power to help families move into one.

Now, if you'll allow me, we have a little present for Bobbie: a housewarming gift for your garden or living room. It's a symbol of the good things that can grow with the right care and attention.

Thank you.


Content Archived: December 27, 2011