Opening Statements of Committee Members

Opening Statement of Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

Hearing on the Nomination of the Honorable Mel Martinez, of Florida,
to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 17, 2001

It is a pleasure for me to be here today, I want to congratulate HUD Secretary-designate Martinez on his nomination and thank him for being here today to answer questions from committee members.

You come highly praised by political, industry and advocacy community leaders and your record of public service is a stellar one. Having also had the privilege of meeting with you to exchange views on the state of our nations' housing and community development efforts, I am convinced of your commitment to improving and expanding housing opportunities for American families. For those reasons I am proud to extend my support for your confirmation.

As you know, America has enjoyed a great deal of prosperity over the course of the past eight years. More people than ever are investing, unemployment figures are at all time lows, and more families than ever - 67% of all American households - own their homes.

But there is a flip side to prosperity - and no where in America is the paradox of the strong economy more severe than in my state, New York, and particularly in New York City.

Every day there, it becomes harder and harder for middle-class people to buy a home or rent a decent, affordable apartment - and the problem of predatory lending threatens to undermine the progress we have made towards developing underserved, lower-income and minority communities.

Historically, our nation has prided itself on its ability to provide decent, affordable housing for all its citizens. But the issue of affordable housing has been wrongfully moved to the back-burner of the national public policy debate, and HUD, which received increased funding during the Clinton administration, still remains a woefully underfunded agency that struggles to meet its difficult and extremely important mission.

Mr. Martinez, I truly hope you appreciate the severity of the housing crisis that plague cities and towns throughout New York and across America. It is my hope that you will commit yourself and HUD to the aggressive pursuit of solving the problems faced by millions of families in our great nation.

In this time of enormous prosperity, we must make every effort to ensure that all families have access to decent, affordable housing.

In doing so, we reaffirm our commitment to the things that mean the most to us as Americans - strong families, quality education, a vibrant, robust economy and safe, livable communities.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.