Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Paris Street Family Apartments Ribbon-Cutting Remarks
Aurora, Colorado, July 12, 2019


As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you, Jeff [Martinez], for that kind introduction. It’s a great honor to join the Aurora community here at the Paris Street Family Apartments to celebrate the incredible transformation that has taken place here.

Also, as a surgeon, I have a special skill with a scalpel – so I’m especially happy to be here to help cut a ribbon – you know, it’s all about precision.

With bold leadership, our nation is experiencing historic highs in the areas of employment, job creation, and economic growth. Optimism has returned, and for many, it feels like morning again in America. However, challenges remain in making sure that every American gets to share in the gains of the past two years.

Nowhere do these challenges hit closer to home than in the area of housing.

For generations, the idea of the federal government providing housing assistance meant only one thing: helping to pay the rent so families can have a roof over their heads.

But we must also think about how we can help families access financial programs, educational opportunities, and higher paying jobs. In short, we must think beyond investing in bricks and mortar, and think about investing in people.

The opposite of poverty is not a winning lottery ticket or a one-time windfall in wealth; it’s financial self-sufficiency, and the ability to forge your own destiny.  That is why our prescription at HUD has been to advance economic opportunity for those most in need, and empower people to pursue their highest potential.

For example, the Paris Street Family Apartments provides affordable, permanent, supportive housing for families—including the many veteran families in Aurora. Aurora has a deep-rooted military history and has been home to veteran families for decades. Our military families sacrifice so much in order to protect our American freedoms, and developments like Paris Street Family Apartments help ease the return to civilian life by providing more affordable housing options.

Fortunately, HUD has made tremendous strides toward increasing the availability of homes for our nation’s heroes. Nationwide, the total number of reported homeless veterans decreased by more than five percent last year, and has decreased by roughly half since 2010 — prompting 73 communities across 33 different states to declare an effective end to veteran homelessness in their areas. Three states have also declared an effective end to veteran homelessness altogether, which means that more heroes have a safe place to call home.

To increase homeownership nationwide, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration, or “FHA,” has served more than 650,000 homebuyers in 2018 alone – most of whom were low-to-moderate income earners. The FHA has also supported the production and preservation of more than 120,000 multifamily housing units and provided $2.45 billion dollars in insurance for hospitals and residential care facilities.

HUD has also awarded nearly $75 million dollars to public housing authorities through the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency program to help public housing residents increase their earned income, save for the future and reduce their dependency on government assistance.

And finally, this past February, HUD announced that we are expanding our Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Pilot Program, which will encourage affordable multifamily home development by making it easier for builders to use FHA-insured loans.

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a powerful program that gives state and local governments the equivalent of nearly $8 billion dollars in annual budget authority to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households.

We are thrilled that the Paris Street Family Apartments have received more than $6 million dollars in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and every dollar pays a dividend to our nation in the form of happier, healthier families – who have a better shot at a brighter future.

HUD’s expansion of our pilot program will reduce the average processing time for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit deals from the current 90 days to as little as 30 days, so more business can get done.

More business means more affordable housing, and that’s a win-win for everyone.

Conclusion

On a personal note, for many years as a doctor, I spent countless hours laboring to save the lives of children. The color of their skin or where they were born never mattered. Their brains did, and after years of operating on this special organ, I can assure you they are all the same color — just like people’s hearts. These two organs — the brain and the heart — are what make people who they are.

There’s a reason for the expression, “The home is where the heart is.” They are where families are raised, and where communities are interconnected. We are not just building housing capital on Paris Street – we are building human capital.

On behalf of HUD, I look forward to continuing to serve communities like Aurora in the months and years ahead, as we work to provide stable homes for Americans of every walk of life. Together, we can continue to lift people out of the cycle of poverty and onto the path of the American Dream.  

As the Paris Street Family Apartments show, that dream is always within our reach.

Thank you.

***