In opening remarks during a hearing in observance of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, outlined the accomplishments of the agency and the impact HUD has had in the lives of America’s most vulnerable individuals and families.
Waters also focused on the need for more robust support for HUD programs, highlighting a visit to N Street Village, a homeless service provider in Washington, D.C., in advance of the hearing with fellow colleagues Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Al Green (D-TX) and Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). During the visit, Members saw the effectiveness of HUD’s investment in the organization and heard from residents who have benefitted from wrap-around services which include permanent supportive housing, physical and mental health care, along with employment training and job placement.
Waters’ statement is below, as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today.
This morning, I, along with a few of my colleagues, visited N Street Village, a homeless service provider footsteps from the gilded halls of our Capitol. As this hearing seeks to examine the effectiveness of HUD programs over the last 50 years, I thought it would be important to help make the connection between what we have talked about here in Committee, and what HUD is doing to support providers like N Street Village working on the frontlines of our nation’s effort to end homelessness.
This morning, we spoke with women struggling to find work and fighting to overcome addiction, physical and mental illness, and abusive situations. What we saw today is how HUD programs directly touch and impact the lives of America's most vulnerable. And we also saw that contrary to the many assertions we’ve heard about dysfunction and ineffectiveness at this agency-- a rather ironic charge given productivity levels here in Congress – HUD works.
Mr. Chairman, in the wake of a foreclosure crisis that pushed as many as 11 million families out of their homes, a fully funded HUD is needed now more than ever before. This is an agency that in addition to reducing veteran’s homelessness across the nation by 33 percent, currently supports 1.2 million affordable housing units for low-income families through the HOME program, including almost 500,000 units for first time homebuyers in rural and urban communities alike. This is an agency that, over the last 50 years, has provided housing assistance to tens of millions of families – 35 million in the last 20 years alone. This is an agency that has ensured that 44 million families have access to the American dream by ensuring they have mortgages that they can actually afford. Without question, HUD is the backbone of our nation’s safety net.
Today, many of our Members of the aisle have provided examples of HUD at work in their districts. These pictures demonstrate the transformative ability of HUD programs—particularly the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which has infused over $7 billion into local communities to rehabilitate foreclosed homes and breathed new life into distressed neighborhoods in every corner of this great nation.
However, this good work continues to be misunderstood undermined by harmful cuts to these programs and Republican brinksmanship on fiscal issues, like the recent opposition of some Members of the Republican Party to raising our nation’s debt limit. Injecting politics into raising the debt limit not only affects students, seniors and veterans, but also critical HUD programs and the vulnerable individuals they serve, much like the women we met this morning at N Street Village. I honestly believe that if some of my Republican colleagues visited with homeless service providers in their districts, they would think twice before risking our nation’s solvency, our economy’s stability and HUD’s existence for the sake of political brinksmanship.