Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling this hearing today to discuss the nomination of Assistant Secretary Andrew Cuomo to Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I am delighted to support this nomination. Assistant Secretary Cuomo's accomplishments in housing assistance at HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development are numerous and have served as model systems, achieving success all across this nation.
Presently, there are several impending housing problems in America. For example, HUD's budget authority for Fiscal Year 1998 is projected to face a shortfall of almost $6 billion with respect to the cost of renewing expiring Section 8 contracts. This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
Another problem concerns HUD's preservation program. Over twenty years ago, HUD offered low-interest loans to private developers for affordable rental housing. In exchange, developers agreed to maintain these properties as affordable housing for twenty years, at which time owners could prepay the mortgages, then convert to market- rate housing or other commercial uses. In 1987 then again in 1990, Congress enacted legislation to forestall the huge loss of affordable housing inventory.
One way to forestall loss of these units is to transfer the properties to tenant- endorsed nonprofit purchasers who will preserve these properties. However, HUD has not requested further funding of the estimated $1 billion to preserve properties already approved by HUD to tenant-endorsed nonprofit purchasers. About one-fourth of the preservation program's federally subsidized housing units sit in my state of California.
While this country is working hard to balance the budget, severe cuts in programs across the board are necessary to achieve these ends. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is not immune to the current climate and must look for innovative ways to do more with less. As I review Assistant Secretary Andrew Cuomo's record at HUD and with the City of New York, I feel confident his experience creating integrated low-income housing systems, which were so successful in the past, will continue to be an asset to the future of housing programs around the country.
Mr. Cuomo, your efforts were recognized back in the '80's when you founded H.E.L.P. in New York City, which grew to be a nationally recognized model of transitional housing for the homeless. At HUD, H.E.L.P. developed into the Continuum of Care model, which was adopted by hundreds of communities in this nation. A Columbia University study last month concluded HUD's Continuum of Care strategy, modeled after a program you developed over ten years ago, made significant strides in homelessness issues around the country.
Mr. Cuomo, your personal commitment to community development, affordable housing and public service have most recently earned you an award from the John F. Kennedy School of Government for Innovation in American Government.
At a time when we are all tightening our belts, when low-income persons especially must chose between spending their dollars of food or spending it on shelter, your past record shows you have done more towards helping the homeless with less money. As a result, fourteen times the number of homeless persons were helped with only twice the funding of previous years. Also, your ideas resulted in more homeless persons moving from emergency situations to transitional and permanent housing, while generating thirty times more private and non-profit dollars since 1992 to match federal funds for homelessness nationwide.
Mr. Cuomo, I commend your past efforts in the homelessness arena. I am pleased to have this opportunity to bring your past experience with housing and homelessness issues to light.
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