Statement before the Senate Committee on
by the Director, Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring (Designate)
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
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
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