Hearing on the Nomination of
February 26, 2004
The Honorable Alphonso Jackson
to be the Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development
before the Committee on Banking, Housing
and Urban Affairs
Secretary Jackson makes a point to members of the Senate Committee
on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs during his confirmation hearing.
Chairman, Senator Sarbanes, and distinguished Members of the Committee,
thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would
also like to thank Senators Hutchison and Cornyn for their kind
Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to President Bush
for his friendship and for his confidence in nominating me as the
next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
highest honor that can be bestowed upon any individual is to ask
them to serve their country.
am delighted that President Bush has asked me to continue my service
to a Department in which I have such pride and such high expectations.
work at HUD defines the compassionate conservatism the President
talks about so often. HUD's mission calls upon us to provide new
opportunities and new tools to every American who seeks a better
quality of life.
help and encouragement from our Department, families across this
Nation are lifting themselves toward prosperity.
understand their journey in a very personal way, because it is my
come from humble means, the last of 12 children born to Arthur and
Henrietta Jackson. We never had a lot of money growing up in Texas,
and my father juggled three jobs to keep food on the table. But
our household was never short of love. My siblings and I were blessed
with devoted parents who made certain their children were well prepared
to face the world. They stressed again and again that with a good
education and a strong work ethic, we could accomplish anything
we chose to tackle.
my mother and my father were with us today, they would no doubt
be proud of the path I have chosen.
have been guided throughout my life by the belief that we best serve
our neighbors in need by empowering them to pursue their dreams.
As a college student, I traveled to Alabama to help register black
voters during the defining days of the civil rights movement. These
were violent times, and I witnessed vicious acts of inhumanity.
But I also saw that the hope of a better tomorrow was a strong and
coming to HUD, I ran urban public housing authorities in St. Louis,
Washington, D.C., and Dallas. We faced the same problems that your
communities deal with, too. This gave me insight into the needs
of public housing authorities and how HUD relates to them. Through
my chairmanship of two community development block grant agencies,
I gained a practical understanding of the ways in which HUD works
in partnership with state and local governments to rejuvenate America's
emerged with strong ideas about how HUD could work better for families
experiences as a public servant are balanced by my work in the private
sector. There, I learned the importance of effective management
in a successful enterprise. Whether in government or in business,
sound management and excellence in program performance are critical
to an organization's success.
Committee Members are acutely aware of HUD's troubled past. Throughout
its history, the Department has been plagued by management challenges
that left it vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. Early in this
Administration, the President made it clear that restoring credibility
and accountability to HUD must be our top priority. And so I worked
alongside Secretary Mel Martinez to instill a new commitment to
real results in HUD's program areas� and a new commitment to the
highest ethical standards in our workforce and among our grant partners.
have visited 30 of HUD's field offices in virtually every state
represented by this Committee. At each office, I met with our employees
to get their thoughts on how HUD's leadership could help them better
serve your communities. After hearing their suggestions, I undertook
a strategic realignment of HUD's entire field office structure.
Decisions that used to be made in Washington have been delegated
to our regional and local offices. Today, they are making decisions
for themselves that used to get lost in layers of bureaucracy at
are striving to make HUD work better and smarter than it has in
personally am very proud that we are helping more people than ever
before realize the American Dream.
last year reached an all-time high of 68.3 percent. At the end of
2003, for the first time ever, more than half of all minority households
owned a home in their community.
you know, boosting the number of homeowners - and minority homeowners
in particular - is one of the President's domestic priorities, and
a personal priority of mine.
want to thank the Chairman and this Committee for your leadership
in enacting the American Dream Downpayment Act last year. Your commitment
will help clear the path to homeownership for 40,000 families annually.
HUD continues its work to simplify the process of buying a home
and make it less costly for consumers. The President has proposed
a tax credit that would spur the creation of affordable homes in
communities where they are desperately needed. And we are offering
families new opportunities to become self-sufficient by helping
them make the move from assisted housing into homeownership.
your support, and the support of HUD's partners at the grassroots
level, I want to build on these achievements. It is within our power
to solve the challenges of housing affordability, availability,
and community renewal.
Chairman, as you can see, I feel passionate about the issues of
housing and community development that lie at the heart of HUD's
mission. But more importantly, I am passionate about the people
that our programs touch: the young family taking out their first
mortgage� the homeless person climbing the ladder to self-sufficiency�
the single mother moving out of public housing into her own home�
the senior citizen living in dignity in retirement� the child playing
safely in a home free of toxic lead.
confirmed, I intend to remain a forceful advocate for those who
turn to HUD for a helping hand.
Department of Housing and Urban Development holds tremendous promise
as an agency of empowerment. I look forward to working with Members
on both sides of the aisle to meet the challenges ahead of us as
we strengthen HUD's ability to carry out its mission� and help the
Nation's housing agency fulfill its promise.
Secretary Jackson fields a question during his February 26 Senate
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