I join with you, Mr. Chairman, in welcoming Andrew Cuomo before the Committee this morning. But before I address his nomination, I also want to take a moment or two to make a few remarks on the record about the out-going secretary, Henry Cisneros, who is here to introduce his successor.
This is Andrew Cuomo's day, so to speak, but I don't think we ought to let Henry simply fade into the distance. And I want to take a moment or two to avoid that happening. In my judgment, Secretary Cisneros has done an absolutely outstanding job over the last four years. I predicted at his confirmation hearing that he would do an outstanding job and that prediction has been borne out.
One of the early articles on him in the National Journal described his task at HUD as mission impossible. Secretary Cisneros did not shy away from what all realize is a difficult and daunting task. He plunged into the job with an energy rarely seen.
I am pleased to say today that he has turned around the way people look at HUD. He has created a sense of momentum, a sense that this troubled agency is on its way back after a difficult period in its history. He has made an important difference in cities all across our country.
I want to thank him this morning for his commitment and his dedication to the goal of providing decent and affordable housing in safe and secure communities.
I know that residents of neighborhoods all across my State of Maryland, indeed all across the nation, are grateful to him for the service he has performed.
Mr. Chairman, we are here today to discuss the candidacy of the man whom President Clinton has tapped to replace Henry Cisneros at HUD, Andrew Cuomo.
Let me state right at the outset that I'm an enthusiastic supporter of this nomination.
It's clear that Mr. Cuomo is an excellent choice for HUD at this time. He is a man with a strong background that qualifies him for HUD Secretary, a person whose biography shows significant achievement and someone with the drive and the intelligence to take on this task and to succeed at it.
I am particularly encouraged by the continuity that Mr. Cuomo's election represents. Many of the problems that Secretary Cisneros confronted when he arrived four years ago are not yet fully corrected and we need to continue the process.
Because Andrew Cuomo has been a major part of this Administration's efforts to turn HUD around and to revitalize America's distressed communities, he represents an excellent choice to build upon the progress that Secretary Cisneros has made.
Mr. Cuomo already knows how the Department works, and he has the vision and the capacities to build upon what he knows.
I would like to recognize him for the numerous contributions he has made during his four years as the Assistant Secretary of Community Planning and Development. His achievements in that very significant position within the Department are many.
I want to highlight two in particular which I think highlight his promise as he takes on the larger challenge of stewardship of the entire Department.
First, I want to commend his administration of the Home Investment Partnership Program. When the Clinton Administration arrived, this relatively new program was moving slowly, seemingly mired in regulation.
Mr. Cuomo took the initiative to eliminate those regulations that stood in the way and worked with states and local governments and the private sector, both profit and non-profit.
He has turned the Home Program into the effective housing program that it is today. State and local governments in conjunction with the private for-profit and not-for-profit-partners are producing substantial results using HOME funds for a variety of activities from housing rehabilitation to homeowner assistance.
Secondly, Mr. Cuomo deserves our recognition for his tireless work on behalf of the homeless. He can take the credit for changing the way homeless programs are administered at the local level, all across the country.
Communities have instituted a continuum of care approach for the homeless. The continuum of care is a phrase that Andrew Cuomo coined for a comprehensive system of assistance to the homeless. That provides prevention, outreach and screening emergency shelters, transitional and supportive housing, and permanent housing with services where needed.
I have seen the effectiveness in service delivery that comes with the local planning and coordination that are at the core of this continuum of care approach.
This is a sterling choice by the President, and Mr. Chairman, I join with you in wholeheartedly supporting this nomination and urge my colleagues to do the same.
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