Chairman D'Amato, Senator Sarbanes, and distinguished members of the Committee. Thank you for considering my nomination, and thank-you to both the majority and minority staff, for the cooperation which they have extended to me throughout this constitutionally prescribed and time-honored process of Senate confirmation.
I am grateful to President Clinton for having nominated me to serve as Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, a position of public trust and great responsibility. I would also like to thank Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo, a young man who I have grown to know as one of great energy and vision, a Secretary who is turning the Department of HUD around from a troubled one to a lean, no-nonsense, professional operation, with his 20/20 reforms. These reforms are changing the way the Department of Housing and Urban Development does business in a positive way.
Integral to this reinvention of HUD is the redesign of the department of Public and Indian Housing, for which I am being considered Assistant Secretary. Housing services to low income families is so very important. Safe, decent, sanitary housing is a hope of all Americans, one that we can and must work to fulfill. The privilege of good public housing doesn't come without a multitude of expectations and responsibilities for the residents that live there. The authorities that run the public housing programs must be held accountable for the funding they receive from HUD as well.
As the former Executive Director of the Newark Housing Authority, a once troubled agency that is now a high performer, I know first hand the importance and value-added assistance the public housing program provides to low income families. I am of the belief that if the Newark Housing Authority can be professionally run, then every public housing authority in this country can, and should be run that way. The stigma of troubled housing and poorly run agencies must become the past of the public housing program, and not the future.
The operation and management of all public housing agencies must be free from the flaws that publicly discredit these programs. With only 52 of the total 3,400 public housing agencies on the troubled list, if confirmed, I will work to change this situation and to improve the image of public housing.
Public housing must be a part of the community rather than apart from the community. With the abundance of resources available to the Public and Indian Housing Program, we can and have to do better.
Starting in 1974 1 began my public career in housing at a non-profit housing agency the Housing Development and Rehabilitation Corporation, (HDRC), developing low income housing in the city of Newark. I also ran a non-profit housing agency in Atlantic City, NJ (ACCORD), developing low income housing. Later, I worked as the Director of Redevelopment and Senior Associate Counsel for the Newark Housing Authority, in charge of both the Real Estate, and the Urban Renewal Department. Following this I was the Director of Development for the City of Newark, in charge of Housing and Economic Development.
For the last six years I have been the Executive Director of the Newark Housing Authority. There I guided the eleventh largest housing authority in America from a troubled housing agency to a high performer, in five short years. Old failed projects were demolished and newly designed townhouse complexes were built, literally transforming the Newark Housing Authority into one of the most successful housing agencies in the country. In addition, I had the privilege of serving on the Board of 15 non-profit organizations, that provided vital community and social services to low income families.
On a personal note, I am humbled to be here this morning before you. As a young man, I grew up very poor on the streets of Newark, NJ, from a single parent household with two brothers. I know the value of hard work, responsibility, and opportunity, instilled in me by my mother, Emma Lucas. She taught me and my brothers that the key to the American dream is to have a good education. My mother, without the help of her husband or public assistance, raised three boys. My brother William is currently working on his Ph.D. in Psychology. Stanley, my other brother, earned a BA from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. I myself am a graduate of Seton Hall Law School, and a licensed attorney-at-law in the State of New Jersey.
Mom, I thank you, and I would also like to thank my wife Emma, of 34 years, and the mother of our two children, Martin and Kellie, for her steadfast support, love and understanding throughout the many stressful and difficult years of my career.
My wife Emma is here with me today.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today. If my nomination is confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to every member of this Senate and this Committee my sincere and tireless dedication to the challenges ahead.
If there are any questions, I would be more than happy to reply. Thank you.
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