Testimony of Roy A. Bernardi
March 6, 2002
Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development
before the U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Financial Services
Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
morning Chairwoman Roukema, Ranking Member Frank, and distinguished
members of the subcommittee. My name is Roy Bernardi. I am the Assistant
Secretary for Community Planning and Development in the Department
of Housing and Urban Development. I am responsible for the management,
operation, and oversight of approximately $8 billion in federal
funds, most of which are distributed by formula to our communities
for economic development and housing activities. As the former mayor
of Syracuse, New York, a recipient of HUD funding, I can tell you
that these programs are invaluable to those responsible for local
am pleased to appear before you to discuss a common interest: brownfields
revitalization. Brownfields is a subject that has received a good
deal of attention these last few years, and President Bush indicated
clearly that brownfields revitalization is high on his domestic
agenda. Given the shared goals of the Congress and the administration,
we have the makings of a solid partnership. That potential was demonstrated
only a few weeks ago when President Bush signed the legislation
that the Congress crafted: The Small Business Liability Relief and
Brownfields Revitalization Act.
redevelopment of brownfields may be framed in two ways: One, as
an environmental cleanup issue and two, as a community redevelopment
issue. Framed as an environmental issue, the central concerns are
assessment, clean up, and potential liability, and the principal
players are environmental specialists and engineers. Framed as a
community development issue, the central concern is the issue of
creating a community asset and the principal players are economic
development specialists and financiers.
has taught us that both approaches are relevant, especially when
they are harnessed together. For a variety of reasons, coordinating
remediation and redevelopment into an integrated approach does not
always happen seamlessly. At the federal level, HUD, the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), and the Economic Development Administration
(EDA) are the primary agencies that assist communities with addressing
brownfield issues. Given the different funding mechanisms that exist
within these agencies, their various regulatory responsibilities,
their own internal priorities, their unique field structures, and
certainly the well-established operating "cultures" within each
agency, the coordination of HUD with EPA and with EDA is not an
easy task. As we move from the federal to the state and local levels,
the complexity of coordination only increases.
over America today, big cities, small cities, and medium cities
are engaged in building cities on old industrial and manufacturing
sites that were left soiled by our heavy industries of the early
and mid-twentieth century. The General Accounting Office has estimated
that 450,000 brownfields exist - the vast majority of which are
located in urban areas. We at HUD, along with our colleagues from
EPA and EDA (and the other 20+ federal agencies involved in the
interagency brownfield efforts) strive daily to achieve the maximum
result at the minimum cost and in the shortest time. Secretary Martinez
and I are committed that HUD will fulfill its mission as the principal
vehicle for the redevelopment of these brownfields.
me turn to HR 2941, the Brownfields Redevelopment Enhancement Act.
As we understand it, the purposes of this Act are to provide (1)
more flexibility to communities, (2) increased accessibility to
funds, and (3) greater capacity to coordinate and collaborate. It
does this by providing additional incentives for remediation and
redevelopment, and by de-linking the Brownfield Economic Development
Initiative grants from the Community Development Loan Guarantee
program. Further, this bill clarifies that activities associated
with brownfields redevelopment are eligible activities under the
Community Development Block Grant Program. Finally, it permits the
Secretary to establish as a pilot program a common loan pool, which
may be securitized. We are interested in working with you on this
and other approaches to brownfields revitalization that will enhance
the well being of affected communities.
survey of over 200 cities, by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, estimated
that Brownfields redevelopment could add up to $2.7 billion in additional
tax revenues and create 675,000 new jobs if these sites were returned
to productive use.
as an administration, are committed to what I am calling the "3R"
approach: Remediation + Redevelopment = Revitalization. Just as
Governor Whitman brought a new level of commitment to EPA to address
and resolve Brownfield remediation, Secretary Martinez and I bring
a renewed commitment to HUD's focus on redevelopment.
include real property with "real or perceived contamination," therefore
significant remediation is not always required. As always, HUD's
role as the catalyst-contributor is to leverage adequate private
financial resources, along with other public funding, to enable
redevelopment to take place.
are confident that our brownfields efforts will, over the long term,
provide for neighborhoods to attract better housing and will lead
to better quality living environments for moderate and low-income
Bush Administration understands that there are opportunities to
improve the revitalization process, to speed redevelopment while
still achieving remediation of risks to human health and the environment.
We can improve the administration of our Brownfield efforts without
sacrificing either redevelopment or remediation.
Chairwoman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for your leadership.
We look forward to working in partnership on this vital issue.
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