Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing.
At the end of last year, the Senate Banking Committee held hearings on housing and community development needs looking forward to HUD's FY03 budget. The conclusion of those hearings was clear, there is simply not enough affordable housing in this country.
Why is this important? It is important because unstable and unavailable housing makes it harder for people to move from welfare to work, for children to learn and perform well in school; for employers to hire and retain workers; and for communities to maintain stable and vibrant neighborhoods.
The lack of affordable housing goes well beyond the very low-income families that we traditionally think of when we think of assisted housing. Housing is a major issue for America's working families. Dave Curtis, a fellow Delawarean who testified last year before this Committee on behalf of the National Association of Homebuilders, spoke about the problems "workers in municipal jobs, such as teachers and police officers, and in the services sector such as janitors, [and] practical nurses…" have in finding both affordable rental and homeownership opportunities.
I look forward to hearing from Secretary Martinez about how HUD's budget addresses the problems of affordable housing. I also look forward to the testimony of the other witnesses.
I hope that Secretary Martinez will also address an issue concerning the continuing crisis in the Outreach and Technical Assistance Grant (OTAG) and Intermediary Technical Assistance Grant (ITAG) funds. In the 2002 appropriations process, Congress appropriated over $11 million in order to correct a possible Anti-Deficiency Act violation made by HUD. This alleged violation resulted in the suspension of critical technical assistance funds, leading many non-profits to lay off workers or even close their doors. In Delaware, the funding freeze has affected the important work of the Delaware Housing Coalition, as well as the Greenfield Manor Resident Council. I look forward to hearing the Secretary's explanation concerning these funds.