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Testimony of Michael M. F. Liu
Assistant Secretary for Public
and Indian Housing-Designee
before the Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Washington, DC
July 26, 2001

Chairman Sarbanes, Ranking Member Gramm, Distinguished Senators:

It is a privilege to be able to appear before you today as part of the confirmation process for the position that I have been nominated.

By way of introduction, let me first note that my wife Susan Orlando Liu and my 9-year-old son Nicholas join us in this hearing. I would definitely not be here without their support, and enduring patience.

My public and professional career has now spanned over 23 years, first as a Delegate to my home state's Constitutional Convention, then as a state legislator, followed by work in community development banking and law. My upbringing includes living in public housing as a youngster; experiencing America's post-World War II transformation into a more diverse and tolerant society through the immigrant experiences of my mother; and being provided the opportunity to compete and succeed in educational and career endeavors that have linked me to various communities on local, state and national levels.

I am no stranger to issues affected by Public and Indian Housing policies. As a state representative in Hawaii, my district included one of the largest subsidized housing projects in Honolulu (Kukui Gardens), as well as one of the most distressed (Mayor WrightHousing). It also included the well-established Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Papakolea Homestead. In recognition of constituent needs, I sought and retained membership on the Housing and Health and Human Services Committee for 8 years, and another 2 years on the same committee in the Hawaii State Senate.

Affordable housing, both homeownership and rental, has been a key area in which I have been involved for many years. While with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Deputy Under Secretary for Small Community and Rural Development (1991-1993), I oversaw implementation of new guaranteed loan programs for both single-family and multifamily housing in rural America. At Bank of America (1993-1997), I worked on a number of single family mortgage and multifamily grant programs to help address Hawaii's high housing costs. In my current role as Sr. Vice-President and Community Investment Officer for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, I have managed an affordable housing grant program that allocates between $14 and $16 million annually, and a $600 million portfolio of community investment credit projects, most of which are for housing. In all of these experiences I have had extensive contact with housing authorities both large and small.

With fundamental adjustments occurring in how the clients of public housing and communities at large are seeing issues regarding housing, a plethora of program and regulatory changes have been enacted. Most of these adjustments have been for the better, giving local, state, and federal authorities more options in framing programs to match local conditions. I look forward to the challenge of managing these changes in collaboration with Public Housing's many partners. And in this context, I see management as including attention to the nuts and bolts of resource allocation for the support of Public and Indian Housing within HUD.

The renewed interest in creative and efficient use of public housing assistance is an integral part of housing goals as described by Secretary Martinez before this committee. Example: the use of Section 8 vouchers for downpayment accumulation, and application of vouchers toward monthly mortgage expense.

There have been great strides in addressing housing issues related to Indian Housing, including the ability to secure mortgages through an ever-growing variety of leases on tribal lands. I will support the coordination of efforts between and among the various federal agencies with native peoples' programs. And more can be done, especially in the educating of private sector banking interests to the potential of markets available under programs administered by Indian Housing and the Office of Native American Programs.

If fortunate enough to be honored by confirmation by the United States Senate, I will be a manager and advocate for fair and common sense delivery of Public and Indian Housing program resources. I understand that it is important to recognize the past in order to effectively move into the future. I also understand that for the families affected by Public and Indian Housing, the future is often very much on the near, rather than on the far horizon, so that timely action must accompany efforts at prudent planning.

Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, I appreciate your indulgence. This concludes my testimony. I stand ready to address any questions or comments you may have. Thank you.

Last modified: July 27, 2001
Content Archived: March 17, 2010
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