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Hope VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


HOPE VI IMPROVEMENT AND REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - January 17, 2008)

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Mr. WATT. I thank the Chair of the subcommittee for moving me up in the order so that I can address some of the misconceptions that we've just heard.

[Page: H309]

I'm holding in my hand a report that was authored, in fact one-third of the report that was authored, by HUD in 1996, about 4 or 5 years into the HOPE VI program. And if we thought that this program was only about demolishing distressed public housing, as my colleague who just spoke would have us believe, we should read the report. It did identify 86,000 severely distressed public housing units that needed to be demolished and replaced in a different kind of setting. It went on to say that we needed to address the needs of the residents. And the commission proposed providing increased funding for supportive services, creating a national system to coordinate social and supportive services to enable residents to become self-sufficient, and devising a system that requires public housing agencies to solicit resident input into the solutions.

And the things we have been complaining about, the gentleman is correct, we have been complaining about the HOPE VI program because it has only been about demolishing public housing and not doing any of the services that were originally contemplated by the program. And the amendments in this reauthorization bill are designed to attack those very shortcomings and the original objectives that HOPE VI was designed to accomplish. Number one, not only demolition, but one-for-one replacement is in this bill; input by residents is in this bill; supportive services, increased funding is in this bill.

So the gentleman is absolutely correct: those of us who have been complaining about the program acknowledge that it has not accomplished the objectives that were set for the programs by Republicans, not Democrats, to replace and eliminate severely distressed housing and to provide the kind of support that is necessary for residents of public housing to be successful. That's exactly what this bill does, and I encourage support for the bill.

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I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. WATT. I would just say the gentleman has made the exact point that I tried to make in my argument, probably even more cogently than I made it, that HOPE VI is about not only tearing down but rebuilding. And there is plenty of discretion in local communities inside the HOPE VI program to demolish public housing, as long as there is a plan to put housing back in place. And we have retained that authority to put housing back in place. The bill terminates the authority to just tear down rather than having the obligation to rebuild.

I oppose the gentleman's amendment and encourage my colleagues to vote against it.

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