Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Innovative Housing Showcase Opening Remarks
Washington, D.C., National Mall, June 1, 2019
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Welcome, everyone, to the inaugural Innovative Housing Showcase!
My ride this morning was a 3D-printed car - a 3D-Printed Utility Vehicle (PUV), in fact - graciously lent to us by my friend, Secretary Rick Perry at the Department of Energy. This incredible technology is made possible by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who develops energy-efficient building system technologies, and is also an exhibitor in this week's Showcase for 3D-printed housing materials.
When the printing press was invented in the year 1440, who could have imagined that six centuries later, we would be printing cars - and even homes? There may be no more enduring testament to the strength of the human spirit than when we come together, transcend our differences, and build a better tomorrow with the tools of today.
Innovation is what happens when the transformative power of the human brain is fully harnessed. As a brain surgeon, I often repeat a saying that my mother instilled into my brother Curtis and me, whenever we hit a roadblock growing up: "You have a brain - you have to use it."
HUD and our partners are now clearing the road for millions of Americans to prosper by driving the development of a new generation of homes that are both more affordable and more resilient.
Before discussing some of the incredible highlights of the week ahead, I would like to take a moment to separately acknowledge and thank each of our exhibitors, who are pioneering the path for a bright future in America's housing industry. These exhibitors include:
- Akkerman Inc., whose innovative technologies allow new infrastructure to be installed in densely populated areas;
- Barbco, who produces environmentally sensitive equipment that aids affordable housing development;
- Boxabl, who developed the "universal building box" used to create almost any style of home at a fraction of the cost;
- Build us H.O.P.E, who provides housing and supportive services to the homeless, disabled, and mentally ill;
- Cavco, a leading designer and builder of systems-built structures, such as manufactured homes;
- Core Housing Solutions, who provides affordable housing by building "tiny houses on wheels";
- Ditch Witch, who provides directional drilling machines and equipment;
- Ducky Johnson, an award-winning structural moving and elevation company that has become a leading disaster response provider;
- Hammerhead Trenchless, who manufactures products that rehabilitate and replace underground utility infrastructure;
- IndieDwell, who makes quality, sustainable modular homes at affordable pricing;
- MinMaxSpaces, a turn-key provider of relocatable buildings and storage solutions;
- National Utility Contractors Association, whose technology allows utility infrastructure to be installed and accessible;
- Piedmont Green, who provides high quality container house services;
- Prescient, who changes the way homes are built through an innovative design platform;
- Skyline Champion Corporation, who builds a wide variety of manufactured and modular homes; and
- UMH Properties, Inc., a dedicated proponent of innovation and advancement in manufactured housing.
That's a lot of names - but it takes teamwork to make any great dream work. And so, on behalf of HUD, I am grateful to each one of you for elevating this historic event with your participation.
The Purpose Of The Showcase: Increasing Affordability and Resiliency
What brings this incredible array of pioneers together this week is a joint mission to educate and inform America's national conversation on housing policy. We believe the best way to galvanize people and policymakers toward a powerful vision of the future is to place that vision right in front of them - and show them what is truly possible.
The Showcase features state-of-the-art building technologies and housing solutions that can make homeownership more affordable for American families, and homes more resilient during natural disasters. In addition, there will be a wide array of exhibitions, prototype homes, panel discussions, and policy conversations with leaders across the housing industry over this five-day event.
While the policies of the Trump Administration have created "a rising tide that floats all boats" - including historic highs in employment, job creation, and financial growth - there are still far too many Americans who seek affordable rents or sustainable homeownership and simply cannot get their foot in the door.
To echo the words of our President, we have a special duty to make sure these "forgotten men and women" will be forgotten no longer.
It is especially meaningful that today marks not only the start of the Showcase, but also the first day of June - which has been designated by President Trump as National Homeownership Month. During this month, we are reminded that homes are not simply physical structures - they are social, cultural, and economic engines. They are where families are raised, and communities are interconnected. Housing problems are fundamentally human problems - and ultimately, that is the bottom line that truly matters.
As HUD Secretary, I spend a lot of time listening to the struggles and stories of everyday Americans trying to buy a home for the first time. It's an uphill climb. But in my work, I have found there is nothing more rewarding than watching hard-working families successfully make the transition from public or HUD-assisted housing, to private home ownership. It is not only a journey of financial self-sufficiency - but one of deep and enduring pride.
That's why, in response to the affordable housing crisis facing our country, new construction technologies and development techniques play a pivotal role in lowering the cost of production and increasing the affordability of new homes for millions of hard-working Americans.
For example, in recent years, manufactured housing is one solution that has emerged out of the limestone and stepped into the limelight - carrying the potential to permanently change the cost side of the equation.
According to data by the Manufactured Housing Institute, the average cost per square foot of a manufactured home is nearly half that of a site-built home - $49 [dollars] per square foot, as opposed to $107 [dollars]. These dramatic cost savings in construction enable responsible citizens to secure housing that may be considerably less expensive than renting or purchasing a site-built home.
And yet, even at this lower price, manufactured homes appreciate in value at a rate similar to site-built homes, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency Housing Price Index. Sustainable homeownership is the number one builder of financial capital for most American families. For example, the average net worth of a renter is $5,000 [dollars], while the average net worth of a homeowner is $200,000 [dollars]. That's an extraordinary 40-fold difference. But with comparable home appreciation rates to site-built homes, manufactured homes exhibit their own extraordinary potential to be a wealth creation tool for families from every socioeconomic background.
And indeed, three fully-built manufactured homes are here, on display, for the American people to see and experience for themselves in the week ahead.
While home affordability is a challenge that touches every family, natural disasters remain a persistent threat that can decimate local communities and their way of life.
Just this week, at least 53 tornados ripped through eight states, stretching from Idaho to Colorado.
Natural disasters do not just devastate housing capital - they devastate human capital, through lives interrupted, school days missed, and communities fragmented under strain. To address this damage, last year, HUD allocated more than $35 billion in funding to 16 state and local governments, supporting America's hardest hit regions. These grants represented the largest single amount of disaster recovery assistance in HUD's history.
Technological innovations such as manufactured homes can help mitigate these harms through the use of environmentally resilient construction materials, as well as by providing an affordable and permanent housing solution for lower-income survivors.
For example, on a recent visit to Alabama, I was shown a site that was demolished by massive tornadoes - and the only homes in the area that successfully weathered the storm were manufactured houses. It was a testament to their resilience, befitting the silent strength of the American spirit.
HUD's Role in Affordable Housing and Resiliency
Although this Showcase is the first of its kind, it is also the continuation of a joint effort from both the public and private sectors. Together, we have made it a top priority to increase the supply of affordable homes and provide a pathway to self-sufficiency for our country's most vulnerable residents.
HUD's innovation efforts complement our broader work in the areas of community revitalization, deregulation, and advancing economic opportunity. Some of these initiatives include:
- Our recent investment of $74 million [dollars] to hundreds of public housing authorities across the country, so residents can increase their earned income, save for the future, and reduce their dependency on government assistance through the Family Self-Sufficiency Program;
- Our work with local community leaders and public officials throughout the country to break down burdensome regulatory barriers to new home construction and development, which can account for 25-40 percent of costs; and
- Our championing of Opportunity Zones, which are driving billions of dollars of private capital into the revitalization of economically distressed neighborhoods in a long-term, sustainable way.
In each area of focus, innovation has a powerful role to play in driving our country forward. For this reason, HUD recently created the Office of Innovation, which is accelerating public-private partnerships and borrowing wisdom from the best practices of American enterprise.
I am also delighted that two institutions under HUD's purview will be exhibitors throughout the Showcase as well. These include the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, and HUD's Office of Housing Counseling.
The FHA is the largest mortgage insurer in the world. It maintains an active insurance portfolio of more than $1.3 trillion [dollars]. Each year, the FHA helps more than a million homebuyers achieve the dream of sustainable and affordable homeownership of single-family homes, while its insurance programs for multifamily properties support the availability of more than 300,000 affordable rental units, including for seniors and people with disabilities.
Our Office of Housing Counseling supports a nationwide network of Housing Counseling Agencies and counselors, who are trained to provide tools to current and prospective homeowners and renters, so that they can make responsible choices to invest in a home, prevent foreclosure, protect credit, or seek advice for housing needs in any financial situation. To increase the reach of this important work, HUD will be granting an additional $43 million [dollars] in federal funds to support hundreds of state and local HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agencies around the country.
While these programs open the doors of homeownership for so many American families throughout the year, HUD is especially humbled and honored today to be opening our own doors to the American public, hosting this historic Showcase in the heart of our nation's capital.
Finally, I would like to extend a very special thanks to the National Association of Home Builders for co-presenting this Showcase with HUD - and for your tireless efforts to bring this incredible event to life. And we are also very grateful for the generous financial support provided by MiTek, the International Code Council, Inc., the National Multifamily Housing Council, the Whirlpool Corporation, and Professional Builder.
The participants in this Showcase are not just stakeholders in the US housing industry - we are stakeholders in the America our fellow citizens are building today, and for our children to inherit tomorrow.
A key lesson I drew from decades as a surgeon is one I see again as Secretary of HUD: The work isn't easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. When a patient pursues the long road back to full health and self-sufficiency, changes do not happen overnight. Improvements take time, regular review, and the support of your whole family.
I am extremely proud of the family we have assembled this morning. I look forward to beginning a fantastic new tradition here on America's front lawn, and to working with you, and for you, to ensure safe, quality, and affordable housing for all who call our great country home.
Thank you, and enjoy this exciting and historic week ahead!