Mr. Chairman, thank you for scheduling this hearing on the nomination of Andrew Cuomo to be Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Over the past four years, Secretary Cisneros began the rescue of a deeply troubled housing department. The Secretary gave a new vision to the department and made the agency a true partner and servant of America's communities. In the last four years, HUD has been transformed from a centralized, bureaucratic institution to a smaller and more responsive agency.
Andrew Cuomo has played a significant role in the reinvention of HUD and has helped to set the department on its current course. He has a clear understanding of the direction HUD is moving and the goals that have been set for the agency. Now, he needs to build upon the success of Henry Cisneros. And with work he has already accomplished at HUD, Andrew Cuomo has proven he will be able to meet this challenge.
Mr. Cuomo has served the past four years as Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. He has devoted most of his energies to rebuilding America's neighborhoods and encouraging the rebirth of urban and community economies through the empowerment zone program. He has also demonstrated his strong personal commitment to the homeless and the less fortunate in our country.
I am pleased that Andrew Cuomo became personally familiar with the housing needs in Nevada. He traveled to Nevada on many occasions and administered many important programs which have had a positive impact on families throughout my state. Mr. Cuomo was also directly responsible for assisting Las Vegas in the development of the Mobilized Assistance and Shelter for the Homeless (M*A*S*H).
Lest anyone believe that the mission of HUD has been accomplished and that there no longer is a need for the department, we must not forget that nearly 5.3 million households pay more than half their income for rent and/or live in substandard or overcrowded conditions. Andrew Cuomo understands that there is much work to be done, and the challenge he faces as the Secretary of HUD will not be easy. While his workforce and resources continue to shrink, Mr. Cuomo must continue to provide and preserve decent, safe and affordable housing to communities across the country.
Changes need to be made to HUDs overall management system. HUD also must provide better oversight for those troubled housing authorities who do not meet the criteria of providing decent and safe housing, who do not run their housing authorities efficiently, and who do not always use federal dollars in a manner that is beneficial to its residents.
I am confident that Andrew Cuomo will continue to work hard for our nation's housing needs and will do so with compassion, vision, and a realistic view of what can be practically accomplished. I look forward to working with him.
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