The hearing will come to order.
Thank you for being here today at this Subcommittee's
third hearing on H.R. 2, The Housing Opportunity and Responsibility
Act of 1997. I introduced H.R.2 on January 7th of this
year. This legislation is designed to reform our public housing
system with the intent to end the isolation of many of our poorest
communities ---ultimately, to foster the creation of communities
of opportunity rather than tolerating communities of despair.
My goal is to overhaul and refocus our Nation's assisted
housing programs so that locally-driven solutions, instead of
"one-size fits all" Washington policies, -- become the
norm rather than the exception. Our laws must be crafted so that
the creative force of local chief executives and community leaders
can be unleashed. These are the individuals who are closest to
the problems, and who are most able to develop solutions.
The Federal government needs to be supportive of
these efforts, not prescriptive or overly restrictive. Flexibility
must be built into the system so that we have Twenty-First Century
programs - not programs based on old-style, bureaucratic models.
We are lucky to have with us here today someone who can speak
to this vision.
We also need to rethink how the Federal government
- and specifically the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
conducts its business. If the Federal government is to serve a
supportive role, then HUD cannot just be an issuer of regulations
--stifling innovation. Nor for that matter can HUD be just a rubberstamp.
This Department, if it is to remain a cabinet-level agency - must
be a true resource to communities.
We have individuals with us today who can speak to
how HUD conducts it business. Hopefully, they will provide insight
as to what we in Congress can do to improve how the Department
not only monitors - but how it can encourage and improve, the
performance of America's public housing authorities.
I would like to note that several Mayors have indicated
that they may wish to submit written testimony for the record,
and there have been other groups who have indicated the same.
I ask unanimous consent that their testimony once submitted be
allowed into the record.
With that, I'll move to introducing our witnesses