Nellie W. Reynolds Gardens Grand Opening
and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
REMARKS PREPARED FOR
STEVE PRESTON, SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2008
Thank you, Carl (Greene). Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to join all of you for this ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Carl, before I begin I want to say how pleased I am that the Philadelphia Housing Authority and HUD have reestablished a working relationship that will allow us to work together to house more families in need. I know we can forge a strong working partnership as we move forward. And I would like to thank Senators (Arlen) Specter and (Robert) Casey for their commitment to the residents of Philadelphia.
Today we honor a steadfast advocate for affordable housing. In Philadelphia, for several decades, the poor and disadvantaged, the old and the frail, have had a friend in Nellie Reynolds. She has given voice to the concerns and hopes of those who didn’t have much, or who were sick, or in desperate need.
I applaud the decision to name this building after Nellie. That was an inspired and an inspirational choice. Today Nellie Reynolds lends her name to an address on Glenwood Avenue that is a home, a lifeline, for elderly citizens in need. This building has a mission that symbolizes Nellie’s own personal contributions to Philadelphia.
Within a few days or weeks, this building will be a settled part of the neighborhood, a place that will be recognized as a local landmark, as well as a place of residence. Senior citizens of this city will proudly state, “I live at the Nellie Reynolds Garden.”
She is a remarkable woman with heart and vision, someone who served this city because she loves it.
Nellie, thanks for a lifetime of service. It is honored with this marvelous building.
Nellie, I don’t know if you knew Robert Weaver, the first secretary of my department. But he once said that “Diversity is what makes the city exciting and vital….There must be room for all peoples…”
I’m sure you agree with him. Dr. Weaver understood that people of all incomes, backgrounds, classes, and circumstances make up a city…they are the city….they make a city great. That is why he had a passionate commitment to the diversity of our cities and to the people served by our department.
I know many of us are worried that affordable housing remains scarce as cities become more expensive. It becomes harder and harder for low-and-middle-income Americans to afford to live in the city. Many people are priced out, often the very people who run the city: policemen, firefighters, teachers, nurses, transportation personnel, office workers, restaurant servers, college students, and even new families. Our cities must remain a community that is inclusive and diverse.
We know there is a tremendous need for affordable housing in America, especially in Philadelphia and all of our major urban centers. And among the population in need of affordable housing, we must not forget our seniors. These are people who have reached retirement age and need affordable housing to make it on their pensions, small savings, or social security. With growing numbers of people over 65, we must not only meet the rising need for affordable housing now, but plan for future needs and get ahead of the demographic curve.
That is why this ribbon-cutting is important. We need this facility. The City of Philadelphia needs this facility. It will be a part of the future of Philadelphia. And this is a place that we can be proud of, because it honors and cares for older Americans who have been members of our family, our neighbors, or our colleagues at work.
After a lifetime of work and service, low-income senior citizens deserve some security in the golden years. Many of the seniors who will live at Nellie Reynolds Gardens have helped build this city and Pennsylvania. Through their hard work and commitment to this state, they helped bring new prosperity and growth, turning Pennsylvania itself into an economic powerhouse. The people who will live here raised families, children and grandchildren, who now are themselves contributing to Philadelphia and the nation. The people who will live here are part of the history here. And they have made a good life possible for the citizens of Philadelphia.
With Nellie Reynolds Gardens, elderly people in the community will have the ability to spend their lives among family, friends, and the community they helped build.
I am also pleased that this will be a green building. Affordable housing can provide leadership to help make all housing greener to help protect the planet.
The building is also wheelchair accessible and adaptable for the needs of those confronting a disability. That is important too. We must make affordable housing a good place to live, a safe place, a place that helps keep residents mobile and secure.
I also want affordable housing to be inspiring. Our facilities should be places of culture and conversation, places that fill the mind and the soul, where residents grow together and expand their horizons. I know that Nellie Reynolds Gardens will be a place of community and comfort, a location where people enjoy life and continue to find it rewarding and fascinating.
Today’s ribbon-cutting reflects a partnership of interests, federal, state and local, public and private, to promote affordable housing in Philadelphia and throughout the nation.
In our cities we must be guided by our humanity and our sense of community. Robert Weaver said that cities must “lift the horizons of hope and expectation for urban America.” And he was right! He also said the best way to do that was through a partnership “between government at all its levels and society.” We see such progressive partnership here today, symbolized by the life and legacy of Nellie Reynolds.