Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Innovative Housing Showcase Closing Remarks
Washington, D.C., National Mall, June 5, 2019
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Welcome, everyone, to the final hour of the Innovative Housing Showcase. It gives me great pleasure to be with you here this afternoon as we wrap up this amazing display of American innovation. This historic event – the first of its kind – is just one of several powerful prescriptions that HUD will be delivering this year to address our nation’s affordable housing challenges.
First, I would like to thank our fantastic partner, the National Association of Home Builders for co-presenting this Showcase with HUD, and for your tireless efforts to bring this week’s events to life.
I would also like to extend our deepest gratitude to our talented exhibitors who showed off the latest and greatest our nation’s housing stock has to offer – right here on America’s front lawn.
And, of course, we greatly appreciate the private sector sponsors who charitably contributed their own financial capital to help us shine a light on these new building technologies and innovations in housing.
Week In Review; “Unity”
This week, we showed that the future belongs to the American builder. And we showed this limitless future can be accessed, owned, and built upon by any hard-working citizen of this great land we all call home.
Throughout the Showcase, we held panel discussions, on-stage interviews, and demonstrations with exhibitors, legislators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the housing industry. We educated tens of thousands of people and impacted the national conversation on housing innovation among policymakers. And most importantly, we put an incredible variety of prototype homes that improve home affordability and resiliency on full display, so fellow citizens could experience the thrill of innovation for themselves.
I saw countless young couples, millennials, walking about the Mall this week, hand-in-hand, and planning their future. Here in the greenest strip of our nation’s capital, you could hear the excitement of a new generation of Americans, coming together around a vision they could feel with their own fingers, becoming inspired to join the American tradition of homeownership.
When you can touch something with your own two hands, it truly makes it real. This is an experience I will never forget from my early years as a pediatric neurosurgeon. Although I always enjoyed working with children, and solving the challenges of the human brain, it was not until I began operating in surgery with my own hands that the vision became reality, and the endless possibilities opened up from reaching out to the challenge and physically touching it.
President Woodrow Wilson once said: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.” I am proud to say that this week, HUD, NAHB, and our many partners and stakeholders boldly delivered that “greater vision.”
Our exhibitors showcased a panoply of solutions to meet the challenges Americans face as they seek affordable rents, sustainable homeownership, and their own versions of the American Dream. The Showcase’s innovators build utility infrastructure, develop energy efficiency systems, provide key services to vulnerable communities, and build a better tomorrow with the new tools and new technologies of today– the sky is truly the limit.
Nothing can – and nothing will – stop these United States as long as we stay United.
One of the key takeaways from this week’s Showcase is that technology is a fantastic tool for building unity. Technology has no color, no creed, no picket line, and no party line. It’s not Democrat, and it’s not Republican – it’s just plain American.
This week we saw policymakers from both sides of the aisle come together, transcend our differences, and promote the construction of a new generation of homes that are more affordable and more resilient for everyone. Through innovation and technology, we are breaking down the barriers that keep people stuck to one side of the political divide.
Affordable and Resilient Homes; “Community”
During this month of June – which has been designated by President Trump as National Homeownership Month – we are reminded that homes are not simply physical structures – they are what binds strong families, strong communities, and ultimately, a strong nation, together.
By making housing more affordable, new innovations in technology help keep people together. I have said it before, but since “repetition is the mother of learning,” it bears repeating: Sustainable homeownership is the number one builder of financial capital for most American families. 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.
With new building and development techniques such as those used in manufactured homes, construction can be done at half the cost with equal price appreciation – according to expert research. These dramatic cost savings enable responsible citizens to secure housing that may be considerably less expensive than renting or purchasing a site-built home. That means the new technologies on display this week carry their own extraordinary potential to be a wealth creation tool for families from every socioeconomic background.
Moreover, these new construction materials are made of sturdier stuff, enabling Americans to come together and build stronger communities. For example, during times of natural disaster – such as those that struck the American Midwest last week – the entire constitution of a home, and a community, are tested.
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 [dollars] in funding to 16 state and local governments, helping 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.
The American spirit is built on the twin engines of ingenuity and resilience. This week, we showed we can deliver a new generation of homes built to reflect these silent strengths right to the front doorstep of the American public.
Innovation in Housing Policy
Going forward, HUD is embracing innovations not only in housing construction and development, but in national housing policy as well.
Our efforts in innovation 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 renewed energy into Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, which increases access to jobs for low-income individuals, and contracting opportunities for the businesses that hire them. For example, in just the last year, expenditures of covered HUD funding generated more than 29,000 jobs, almost 12,000 of which were Section 3 hires. Also, of the more than $5 billion [dollars] in construction contracts that were awarded during that period, almost half a billion dollars in contracts were awarded to just over 2,500 Section 3 businesses;
- Other policy innovations include 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
- We have been a constant champion 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. We are proud that these Opportunity Zone initiatives have been met with broad, enthusiastic bipartisan support.
Along each axis, innovation has a powerful role to play in driving our country forward. HUD’s recently created Office of Innovation will also be accelerating public-private partnerships, leading a team effort with business leaders who equip HUD with the best practices from America’s private enterprise.
It has been said that “A city is not gauged by its length and width, but by the broadness of its vision and the height of its dreams.” This week’s events combined very big dreams into a concrete vision that tens of thousands of Americans were delighted and inspired to witness and experience for themselves.
As we bring this Showcase toward its conclusion, I would like to thank each of you once again for joining us at this historic, inaugural event. Let’s carry this week’s successes into a bolder future, and build on a tradition that will inspire Americans from every walk of life, for generations to come.