Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing. I would like to thank Dave Curtis for appearing before the panel today and sharing his expertise with us. Mr. Curtis is well known for his knowledge on a wide array of financing and development programs including those offered by HUD, Housing Finance Agencies and GSEs. He recently led the successful effort to secure a $16,800,000 HOPE VI grant to assist in the revitalization of Wilmington's oldest public housing community. I am proud to have such an accomplished Delawarean appearing before the committee. I would also like to thank the other witnesses for coming today and sharing their views and their expertise with the Committee. I look forward to all of the testimony.
Last week, I toured the various homes built by the Cornerstone West project in Wilmington. The Cornerstone West project revitalizes homes on Wilmington's West Side for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. I was really impressed by what I saw. One of the persistent problems we've had in Wilmington, and I'm sure we're not alone, is boarded up housing, vacant units, a preponderance of rental units instead of owner-occupied housing, as well as long waiting lists for assisted housing. Cornerstone is one project that is tackling these problems. I'm sure there are similar projects in other cities, and Congress should ensure that it provides successful projects and programs with the funds they need to make housing more affordable.
It is clear that there is a lack of affordable housing in the United States. Currently, there are nearly 5 million very low-income households with worst case housing needs; about 94% of these families pay more than half of their income in rent each month. To address this shortage we have to find the best use of every dollar at our disposal, as well as the most effective use of existing federal programs to stimulate new production and substantial rehabilitation.
That is why I joined Sen. Corzine in sponsoring legislation increasing the FHA multifamily loan limits. I was pleased that this increase passed as part of the VA/HUD appropriations legislation, although I was disappointed that it did not include the indexation that Sen. Corzine and I had in our bill.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on other initiatives that address the affordable housing crisis in our communities