Thank you Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing. I also want to thank all of the witnesses for appearing here today to discuss the 2003 HUD budget and for offering their insights as to how we can best seek to provide American families with decent, safe, affordable housing.
Mr. Chairman, I share you commitment to this cause, and believe that one of our primary responsibilities on this committee is to ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is held to the highest standards as they seek to carry out this important mission.
It is a responsibility that we must never abdicate or shy away from.
Maintaining an adequate supply of affordable housing and making it available to those who need it is of the utmost importance to our nation. The need for affordable housing has been exacerbated given our current economic situation -when more and more Americans face unemployment and our nation stands in the midst of a recession which may be prolonged as a result of the effects of the September 11th attacks.
I have great concerns about cuts that were made in the HUD budget, in particular the elimination of the Public Housing Drug Elimination Program, a program that had been heralded as reducing crime in and around our nation's public housing developments.
Additionally, I am concerned about the cuts made to programs that provide housing aid to the elderly, disabled and low-income communities. I also look at the Community Development Block Grants as an important part of addressing the housing shortage. I am have great concern about the cuts made to that program as well.
Mr. Chairman, it is my hope that as we look at the HUD budget for fiscal year 2003, the needs of American families will be the paramount consideration. If it is not, then we, and HUD, will have failed in our duties.
I look forward to the discussion today and to hearing the recommendations of our witnesses. Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding this hearing.