Statement by The Honorable Henry G. Cisneros
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Confirmation Hearing on the Nomination of
Andrew Cuomo to become HUD Secretary
January 22, 1997
Chairman D'Amato, members of the Senate Banking Committee, thank
you for allowing me to appear before you today. I would like to
first express my heartfelt appreciation for the responsible
oversight and informed support you have given the Department of
Housing and Urban Development during the last four years.
And, today, I especially appreciate this opportunity to speak on
behalf of a dedicated colleague in public service. I am proud
that President Clinton has nominated, and you have agreed to
consider, Andrew Cuomo as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban
Let me tell you a little of what I have learned about Andrew
Cuomo ... the public servant and the man.
When Andrew Cuomo was put forward in 1992 as a potential
candidate to be Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and
Development at HUD, it was immediately clear that his experience
and capabilities matched the requirements of the HUD position
that has responsibility for homeless programs, CDBG, the HOME
program, Empowerment Zones, and neighborhood economic
Andrew had been the founder of a widely respected housing
nonprofit group called H.E.L.P. which, under his leadership,
became the largest provider of homeless services in the nation.
He began H.E.L.P. in 1986 as an alternative to housing the
homeless in welfare hotels. Under Andrew, H.E.L.P. built
transitional and permanent housing, helped homeless men and women
get job training, G.E.D.s, child care, substance abuse treatment
and mental health care so they could become self-supporting.
Andrew turned H.E.L.P. into a 350-employee organization, with a
$25 million annual budget, an organization that, by the time he
left, had built more than $120 million worth of housing and had
helped thousands of homeless people.
He also had created another nonprofit group called Genesis which
developed innovative approaches to urban development, that
portion of HUD's mission which is the "U.D." in HUD.
At H.E.L.P. and Genesis, Andrew worked in the neighborhoods and
on the streets, at the bricks and mortar level of housing and
urban programs. He built housing, collected rents, met a
payroll. And he dealt with government bureaucracies from the
other side of the fence.
He has taken his experience with H.E.L.P. and used it as a national
model for the overhaul of' HUD's homeless policies. In a study
released just last month, Columbia University found that HUD's
homeless programs -- we call it the Continuum of Care --are effective
and have assisted record numbers of homeless persons. In 1992, HUD
served 20,000 homeless persons; today we annually serve about
290,000, or 14 times as many, even though our spending has only
His leadership of the Community Development Block Grant program has
advanced its reputation as our most successful community development
program. And he built on the CDBG experience by taking the
Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community concept from ground zero to
a vital, up-and-running program.
He took the HOME affordable housing program which - - due to lack of
effective management -- had completed fewer than 2,000 units, and
made the reforms necessary to complete more than 110,000 units.
He created EDI - - the Economic Development Initiative - - which
mayors consider their most flexible economic development tool for
He led the effort to create HOME OWNERSHIP opportunities through the
highly successful HOME OWNERSHIP Zones program, our most promising
HOME OWNERSHIP tool for bringing back urban neighborhoods. He
combined 12 application and reporting documents into one easy-to-understand strategy that each community develops. And he managed all
this while cutting the CPD staff by almost 25 percent since taking
These assessments of Andrew's accomplishments are shared by others.
HUD's Inspector General praised the streamlining efforts in the
Community Planning and Development office under his leadership, and
those efforts have been cited by the Ford Foundation and Harvard
University as a model of government reform. And, in a recent report,
the General Accounting Office noted how HUD's management of the
Empowerment Zone program has cut through' red tape to get things done
in the community.
And the most important assessment comes from those who know HUD's
programs best. It is for that reason that his broad base of
support ranges from advocacy groups such as the homeless facility
run by Father John Carol in San Diego, California, to Habitat for
Humanity. From rural economic development leaders to the
National Association of Realtors. From local elected officials
to veterans' groups and the Mortgage Bankers' Association of
Andrew has been a vital part of the teamwork we have stressed
over the past four years at HUD. He has been a consistently
reliable and constructive contributor at the senior staff
meetings every Monday morning ... planning and problem-solving
meetings that covered the complete range of HUD's programs and
responsibilities. He has demonstrated his understanding and
knowledge of the entire spectrum of HUD's responsibilities.
Chairman D'Amato and members of the Committee, I've come to know
and respect Andrew Cuomo after working so closely with him. I
believe I know the kind of person he is: his strengths and his
values. He is a man of great energy; a diligent, resourceful
manager. He has a sense of public service, a sense of propriety
and dignity, and a sense of the purpose of government. He has
the skills to succeed, and he'll be starting like a relay runner
already going full speed when he takes the baton.
He is not only the official most qualified to do the job, but the
best person for the job.
On a personal note, let me say that I feel toward him as I would
toward a brother, and I couldn't be more proud of Andrew if we
were related. He and Kerry are a loving couple, they are raising
two beautiful daughters, and by experience and temperament they
share the hopes and dreams of America's families.
In sum, Mr. Chairman, I am proud to support President Clinton's
nomination of Andrew Cuomo to be the next Secretary of the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development. I am confident
that, together, you and he will succeed in making HUD a stronger,
more efficient and dependable partner in the work of building a
better future for all Americans.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009