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Statement before the Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

by the Director, Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring (Designate)
Ira G. Peppercorn
October 7, 1998

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the honor and privilege of coming before you today. I am profoundly grateful to President Clinton for nominating me to be the first Director of the Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring, to Secretary Cuomo for his support and leadership, and to the Members of this Committee for considering confirming me for this position.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend this committee for its forward thinking view in creating a solution to one of our nation's critical housing challenges: what to do with an aging multifamily housing stock and with subsidized rents that in many cases are significantly over the market.

This is an age when we need to look at our challenges in a different way. And this is a time when we need to take a new look at how government should operate. Thank you for your foresight and thank you for considering my confirmation for this position.

What is needed to accomplish the task before us? Someone who understands the needs of people living in apartments. Someone who has demonstrated an ability to lead an organization. Someone who is dedicated to improving the lives of the citizens of our country. And someone who has an excellent track record in the housing industry and is committed to building working relationships with all OMHAR stakeholders.

Today I would like to share my background with you and humbly ask that this Committee confirm my nomination.

I grew up in an ethnically diverse environment with immigrants and first generation Americans. My father was a postal worker; my mother was a homemaker. In the community in which my sister and I grew up, people looked after each other, celebrated the births, graduations and marriages, and consoled each other in times of grief, like they would in any small community. But home was an apartment and our apartment building was our community.

That is why the opportunity to ensure affordable housing opportunities for the million and a half families affected by this legislation has such resonance with me.

After I put myself through college at the University of Massachusetts and graduate school at Yale, I made a choice to go to a small town in Indiana, which, at the time, was going through a difficult economic period, My job was to try new ways to create jobs and businesses. My work included investing capital in small businesses, giving advice to budding entrepreneurs and developing a business incubator for new businesses. ( learned the lesson of trying new approaches to help an economy when the large, industrial organizations were downsizing. This experience made me sensitive to the reality of the pain when change occurs, It also showed me the importance of searching for creative solutions to deal with difficult problems.

I then had the honor and good fortune of being asked by Governor Evan Bayh and then Lt. Governor, now Governor, Frank O'Bannon to join their team and bring this approach to a state level After a year and a half in the state's Department of Commerce, I was asked to lead Indiana's Housing Finance Authority. What was clear was that housing played a vital role in improving an economy and providing opportunities for all of a community's citizens.

My challenge was to strengthen that organization's financial position, to create a range of housing opportunities for Indiana's citizens, to leverage the resources of our partners to achieve common goals, and do this all in a professional, non- partisan manner.

My record, which I humbly submit to you today, shows success in all of those areas, The HFA's financial position was upgraded twice by Moody's Investor Service. The homeownership rate in Indiana skyrocketed, The first multifamily bonds in the decade were issued, A successful investment fund for multifamily housing was created. Needed investments in shelters for the homeless were made.

Our organization had a public purpose but operated as a private business, We relied on public and private sector partners to accomplish our mutual goals, we brought people into the process and we managed well. These are many of the same principles that will guide this new office,

I also had the good fortune to work for GE Capital, one of the nation's financial leaders. There, I worked on multifamily issues, particularly those being financed by tax exempt bonds. I learned how a private sector organization manages a portfolio of multifamily properties, how they ensure that they are well maintained, the kind of investment and reserves necessary to keep the properties in good condition, and how to correct the problems of the ones that fall behind.

Earlier this year, I was asked by Secretary Cuomo to join him at the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the Deputy Commissioner of FHA. My time at HUD has been spent on both single and multifamily issues. This Committee is aware of the challenges faced by the Department and my active role in attempting to solve these challenges.

Looking for solutions to improve the lives of our citizens in a fiscally responsible way, and being entrepreneurial whether in the private or public sector, has been the hallmark of my career. And doing this to improve the lives of those who live in the thousands of apartments across America touches me personally as well,

Thank you very much for the honor of appearing before you today. if confirmed, I will do everything in my power to make sure that we work cooperatively to accomplish our common goals.


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