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Remarks at the Grand Opening of the DHIC Homeownership Center and Community Classroom

June 7, 2013
Remarks at the Grand Opening of the DHIC Homeownership Center and Community Classroom

Carlton Place Apartments - Thank you for inviting me to be with you on this joyous occasion. As most of you know, June is National Homeownership month. I cannot think of a better way to observe National Homeownership Month than being here today to celebrate the grand opening of the expanded DHIC Homeownership Center and Community Classroom.

I'm glad to be here along with other community leaders who support the cause of affordable housing: Treasurer Cowell, Joseph Smith, Eileen Fitzgerald, Robert Kucab, [others].

The Homeownership Center and Community Classroom is a prime example of the magic that Gregg, his staff at DHIC, and their partners - like the City of Raleigh -- can do when they work together. Raleigh, Wake County and the greater Triangle area have a great resource in DHIC, which developed both Carlton Place Apartments and the terrific classroom and office space inside. [Applause.]

The Center and Community Classroom will be home to DHIC's monthly homebuyer workshops and one-on-one counseling services for individuals pursuing the path to first-time homeownership.

DHIC's professional Homeownership Center counselors are highly skilled at giving residents the information and advice they need to make good, informed decisions about homeownership, building their credit and choosing a right-sized, affordable mortgage for their needs. As I learned, long ago, when I served on the House Banking Committee, one of the top ingredients in successful homeownership was and continues to be access to pre-purchase counseling—nothing is more important.

And as the economy continues to work through the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, it is critical that federal funding for HUD's housing counseling activities remain in place. Affordable housing is at the core of our government's commitment to ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to seek a better future and a secure retirement.

I think it is particularly appropriate that DHIC was able to secure funding made available through the National Mortgage Settlement to expand the services provided here, including foreclosure prevention.

In today's fiscal climate, the ability of DHIC to tap into multiple funding streams, to cobble together public-private partnerships and revenue sources is particularly impressive. Groups like DHIC are excellent stewards of taxpayer funds. Through their innovative approaches, in 2012, they have been able to leverage their federal funding in at a more than 23 to 1 ratio.

Let me repeat that: for every dollar of direct federal investment, DHIC is able to leverage more than 23 dollars. That's nothing short of amazing, and it's exactly the kind of investment the federal government must continue to make, both because it pays huge dividends and because it is the right thing to do.

A contentious national debate is underway as we attempt to get our economy back to full strength and put our fiscal house in order.

In the midst of these debates, we must remember what type of America we want to live in, raise our children in, and pass down to future generations. America's promise must include a commitment to her most vulnerable citizens -- the collective roof needs to cover every head. Homelessness and the lack of stable housing for the elderly and disabled are marks of societal failure.

Unfortunately, not everybody in Washington shares this view. As a member of the House Transportation Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, I have consistently opposed efforts to gut federal funding for counseling. We all know that families have suffered tremendously over the past four years.

It is events like the one today that remind us we cannot allow the Department of Housing and Urban Development to end up on the cutting room floor. It is critical for advocates for affordable housing programs to let their elected representatives know that these are vital programs that our communities rely upon. Let's make sure there are more events like this one!

Today is not only a celebration of this wonderful community, but also a reminder of what can be done when we all work together, with common purpose, toward a common good. A community is truly stronger as a whole than any one of its parts.

Again, thank you to everyone who cares about affordable housing and has helped this effort come to fruition.

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