DR. BEN CARSON
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
AT THE FAMILY SELF SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM 25th ANNIVERSARY AND AWARDS
DECEMBER 15th, 2017
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
It's great to be here with you today.
I'd like to start by thanking Ron Ashford, our Director of Public Housing Supportive Services. The Family Self Sufficiency program is just one of the many amazing initiatives which he oversees. He's retiring at the end of this year, after 22 years of faithful public service. He has put his heart and soul into HUD's mission, and always kept the well-being of residents-and his fellow Americans-at the center of his work. Please join me in giving Ron some well-deserved praise.
Today is a lesser known holiday in our country: Bill of Rights Day. It's the 220th Anniversary since our Bill of Rights, made up of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, was ratified.
It's important to remember, because American history has been a process of opening up those rights to more and more people. Opening up the American dream to all Americans. Opening the doors of opportunity to our neighbors.
The Family Self Sufficiency program has carried on that amazing national tradition for 25 years. To celebrate a quarter century of accomplishments, and the many thousands of families we've assisted, yesterday we released the 25 Years of FSS electronic booklet, honoring the achievements of this great program and the people who have benefited from it.
The wonderful men and women who have worked to administer and cooperate with FSS, whether in our nation's capital, or in Public Housing Authorities across the country, have dedicated themselves to the greatest gift we can give our nation's families:
Independence. Empowerment. Self-reliance. The tools to build a rewarding career, a fulfilling life, and a happy home.
It is hard to think of a worthier cause, or a more necessary goal.
That is why we're continuing to invest in the futures of our countrymen. Today, I am proud to announce 75 million dollars in new FSS funding across the nation.
This goes through PHAs to help families. It provides the building blocks of saving, training, and education, which are necessary for anyone to lay the foundations for a better future.
The District of Columbia has been a wonderful partner working toward this goal over the years, preparing hundreds of families to stand tall on their own.
Over the last decade, HUD has awarded 2.4 million dollars in FSS funds to the District of Columbia Housing Authority.
This year, I'm proud to announce that HUD is continuing this investment in our fellow Americans by awarding two hundred and seventy-seven thousand dollars to the District of Columbia for Family Self Sufficiency.
Today I've met with some great people at the DC Housing Authority. And I've also met with some of the men and women whose families are participating in the Self-Sufficiency program.
They are courageous people. Hardworking people. And they deserve all the support we can give them. Not just from government-but from our communities, as neighbors and friends.
What we have to realize in our country, is that we only have 330 million people. That sounds like a lot of people. But it's a quarter of what China has. A quarter of what India has. Which means we need to develop all of our people. We can't have groups of people who aren't being developed.
We can't be sending a bunch of people to prison, we can't have ineffective schools, and we need to pool our resources and our talents to make sure that we develop those people, because if we don't, we will all suffer: our children will suffer, our nation will suffer.
Self-sufficiency doesn't mean "pulling the rug out" when someone begins to make progress. Sometimes in the past we've been guilty of doing that. And other people are watching, and they say, "I'm not even going to start up that ladder to self-sufficiency because they're going to take my support!"
We've learned. We have to change the way we do things, and make sure that they're so far up that ladder that they're not even looking down at the floor to see where the rug is.
I am sure that, in another 25 years, when another HUD Secretary celebrates another anniversary for this program, thousands more families who need our help today will be standing tall, as a living testimony to the work of FSS, and all the dedicated people in government and in the private sector who have contributed to its noble mission.
And let's throw away the hateful divisiveness that is emerging in our society. History tells us that that kind of divisiveness never leads to anything good. It always leads to something bad.
We can do better than that. You know, whether you're a billionaire or a pauper, we're all in the same boat. And the more of us who are strong rowers of that boat, the faster we get to our destination-of peace and prosperity for all.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!