Testimony of Michael M. F. Liu, Assistant Secretary for Public
and Indian Housing-Designee, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and
July 26, 2001
Chairman Sarbanes, Ranking Member Gramm, Distinguished Senators:
It is a privilege to be able to appear before you today as part
of the confirmation process for the position that I have been nominated.
By way of introduction, let me first note that my wife Susan Orlando
Liu and my 9-year-old son Nicholas join us in this hearing. I would
definitely not be here without their support, and enduring patience.
My public and professional career has now spanned over 23 years,
first as a Delegate to my home state's Constitutional Convention,
then as a state legislator, followed by work in community development
banking and law. My upbringing includes living in public housing
as a youngster; experiencing America's post-World War II transformation
into a more diverse and tolerant society through the immigrant experiences
of my mother; and being provided the opportunity to compete and
succeed in educational and career endeavors that have linked me
to various communities on local, state and national levels.
I am no stranger to issues affected by Public and Indian Housing
policies. As a state representative in Hawaii, my district included
one of the largest subsidized housing projects in Honolulu (Kukui
Gardens), as well as one of the most distressed (Mayor WrightHousing).
It also included the well-established Department of Hawaiian Home
Lands Papakolea Homestead. In recognition of constituent needs,
I sought and retained membership on the Housing and Health and Human
Services Committee for 8 years, and another 2 years on the same
committee in the Hawaii State Senate.
Affordable housing, both homeownership and rental, has been a
key area in which I have been involved for many years. While with
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Deputy Under Secretary
for Small Community and Rural Development (1991-1993), I oversaw
implementation of new guaranteed loan programs for both single-family
and multifamily housing in rural America. At Bank of America (1993-1997),
I worked on a number of single family mortgage and multifamily grant
programs to help address Hawaii's high housing costs. In my current
role as Sr. Vice-President and Community Investment Officer for
the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, I have managed an affordable
housing grant program that allocates between $14 and $16 million
annually, and a $600 million portfolio of community investment credit
projects, most of which are for housing. In all of these experiences
I have had extensive contact with housing authorities both large
With fundamental adjustments occurring in how the clients of public
housing and communities at large are seeing issues regarding housing,
a plethora of program and regulatory changes have been enacted.
Most of these adjustments have been for the better, giving local,
state, and federal authorities more options in framing programs
to match local conditions. I look forward to the challenge of managing
these changes in collaboration with Public Housing's many partners.
And in this context, I see management as including attention to
the nuts and bolts of resource allocation for the support of Public
and Indian Housing within HUD.
The renewed interest in creative and efficient use of public housing
assistance is an integral part of housing goals as described by
Secretary Martinez before this committee. Example: the use of Section
8 vouchers for downpayment accumulation, and application of vouchers
toward monthly mortgage expense.
There have been great strides in addressing housing issues related
to Indian Housing, including the ability to secure mortgages through
an ever-growing variety of leases on tribal lands. I will support
the coordination of efforts between and among the various federal
agencies with native peoples' programs. And more can be done, especially
in the educating of private sector banking interests to the potential
of markets available under programs administered by Indian Housing
and the Office of Native American Programs.
If fortunate enough to be honored by confirmation by the United
States Senate, I will be a manager and advocate for fair and common
sense delivery of Public and Indian Housing program resources. I
understand that it is important to recognize the past in order to
effectively move into the future. I also understand that for the
families affected by Public and Indian Housing, the future is often
very much on the near, rather than on the far horizon, so that timely
action must accompany efforts at prudent planning.
Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, I appreciate your indulgence.
This concludes my testimony. I stand ready to address any questions
or comments you may have. Thank you.