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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. KAPTUR. I rise to associate myself with the remarks of our esteemed ranking member, John Olver of Massachusetts, and rise to oppose Mr. Flake's proposal.

Now, if Mr. Flake came to the floor and cut money from well-larded Arizona projects, I might ponder that type of amendment--but I don't support cuts in HOME. With the devastation that's occurred across our housing market, we shouldn't harm housing for sure. But, if he would take the money to balance the budget from the subsidized Central Arizona Water Project, or if he would take the funds from the major Federal monuments that are stacked wall-to-wall in his State of Arizona, or if he would take the funds from all the defense facilities that help to employ and hold up the economy of his State--those might be worthy of debate.

It's very interesting where he cuts money from--from among the poorest areas in this country, some of the most devastated parts of America that are trying to rebuild themselves. It's very curious to me when he proposes amendments, whether it be this one or other ones in subcommittee, he always leaves his home turf sacrosanct.

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Ms. KAPTUR. Reclaiming my time, all those loans were subsidized and capital was made available at very favorable terms compared to my region of Arizona. That paid its own way. Just look where federal dollar flow to Arizona--if one looks at the defense bases across northern Ohio, we don't have anything like Arizona has. Defense dollars flow heavily to Arizona. Or, if we look at the kinds of subsidies we are providing for water in the West--The Central Arizona project or for Bureau of Land Management projects, for all of the investments that have been made to allow Arizona to even get water, federal funds have built Arizona--and then to say to the part of the country that said, Well, we want the West to develop. So we're going to help you out. But now you say, No, no, no, no. Now we're going to take money away from Cleveland and Toledo and Detroit and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Chicago and Milwaukee--all of the places that taxed themselves for the development of the modern West.

So I would say to the gentleman, I think the answer to the problem we have is economic growth, and we have to invest in that. The housing sector has been dead in the water since 2008, largely because of the nonregulation of the Bush administration during those years when the Wall Street house of cards and derivatives were created. So let's look at what happened back then.

But, please, don't take it out of the hides of the most stressed communities in America that, despite all the odds, are in the process of reinvesting and rebuilding themselves to fuel recovery.

So I just want to associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Olver). Oppose the Flake amendment. Support programs that will help the revitalization of the housing sector of this country.

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Ms. KAPTUR. Normally I enjoy working on a bipartisan basis, especially with our good colleague from eastern Ohio (Mr. LaTourette) and so in a way I reluctantly rise in opposition to his proposal.

Let me mention that in a way we're into quite a 200-year extensive history of the rules of the House, but in essence the legislation as enacted works. Every single community that I represent that has ever asked HUD for any type of waiver, if the percentage was operating in there to their detriment, it has been granted. And so I think the legislation as is works. It keeps the focus on reinvestment. But if a mayor or if a council wants to use more of their funds for demolition, they merely ask HUD. And, quite frankly, HUD acts in quite an expeditious manner. So I think in a way this is a solution in search of a problem.

I think the gentleman, we welcome his concern about the neighborhoods of this country that have been devastated by the Wall Street-induced housing crisis and lack of regulation here in Washington, but I really don't think it is necessary, and I would support the subcommittee chair and ranking member in their concern by raising a point of order here.

I've expressed my interest in working with the gentleman on any community that you may represent that's facing this situation because every single one that we've had come to us, we have resolved with HUD's full cooperation. So I would support the subcommittee chair's invoking of a point of order on this amendment.

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Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I would like to rise in opposition to this amendment and to say to the gentleman from Georgia that I don't really know where you might live in Georgia, but imagine neighborhoods in our country where there is no private lender with competitive rates; imagine neighborhoods that are crammed at the edges with payday lenders who are more than willing to bilk people who have checks to cash, maybe even Social Security checks, and they charge them royally for that; imagine a neighborhood where there is no church-run credit union, maybe a multilingual neighborhood with no lending arm of any reputable institution. If there is somebody in the neighborhood willing to make a loan, such as a loan shark, they charge fees. Imagine the trouble that a family can get into. Imagine how difficult it is in those neighborhoods to accumulate capital to make a loan because everything is being taken out by predatory practices and nothing is put back in.

NeighborWorks is one of the few institutions in this country that has proven itself and works in exactly those kinds of neighborhood. NeighborWorks tries to save families and give them a chance to get on the ladder up to opportunity. Particularly during this time, when we know we've had the largest transfer of wealth in American history from Main Street to Wall Street. NeighborWorks is a lifeline. People have had their equity taken away, including in neighborhoods like I'm talking about, where people were beginning to own their own homes for the first time, where they needed financial counseling, mortgage counseling, advice on if you're going to buy a home, what a reasonable down payment is, based on how much do they earn. People need sound advice on mortgages--that you shouldn't pay more than this out of your check so you don't get in trouble. People need advice as they try to find reputable people to repair their homes so they get a decent price on their roof and gutters--it all seems so simple if you live in the suburbs, and you've got enough money, and the region is not disinvested, and you're not living at the edge.

NeighborWorks is one of those programs that is needed, particularly at this time in our country with the housing market being in the condition that it is. With the enormous challenges facing built communities in the built environment in city after city, NeighborWorks serves community after community, both urban and rural. It's amazing what's happened even to rural small towns in this country and their emptying out that is really historic in nature.

A program like NeighborWorks has proven itself time and again. It pays back to the American people their equity not being lost, in helping capital accumulate in some of the most forgotten corners of this country, and with their staff that are highly trained and highly reputable.

I would not want to be without NeighborWorks in Ohio, not in the housing situation that we're facing today. I'm not sure about Georgia. But I would bet in Atlanta they value NeighborWorks if they have one, and I assume that they do. But you have to imagine yourself living in a place like you may not know. And for the American Dream to happen, organizations like NeighborWorks are absolutely essential.

I oppose the gentleman's amendment. I think it may be well intentioned, but I think it's going to achieve exactly the wrong result. I think Chairman Latham of the full committee and Ranking Member Olver have reached an accommodation here to help our housing market recover in some of the most forgotten places and not to have any more hemorrhaging of equity and investment capital across this country. I urge a no vote on the Broun Amendment.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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