House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that new ideas are needed to fight poverty and housing affordability challenges.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation in 1965 to create the Department of Housing and Urban Development as the nation’s 11th cabinet department.
Hensarling said that the purpose of the legislation was “to achieve the best administration of the principal programs of the federal government which provide assistance for housing” but it hasn’t lived up to that.
“Now, 50 years and more than $1.6 trillion in real dollars spent later, it is hard to conclude that HUD has lived up to those lofty aspirations,” he said. “Instead of marshaling federal resources towards the goal of addressing America’s housing needs, HUD has come to symbolize the dashed hopes of the Great Society vision that mistook centralization for coordination and spending for compassion.”
He went on to say that despite myriad federal housing programs and initiatives, decent housing remains unavailable or unaffordable for far too many today just as it did five decades ago, and that HUD has failed to solve this persistent problem because it has failed to focus on its underlying cause: the very real human tragedy of generational cycles of poverty seen in so many communities.
“Simply put, we must reform and innovate how we provide assistance for housing in the 21st century or we will continue to fail the very people who are in most need of our help,” he said. “That is why I am calling on all interested advocates, organizations, and ordinary citizens to join the effort to modernize the delivery of federal housing assistance and submit their ideas on how to restructure and rebuild HUD for today’s generation.
“Fifty years later, let those words be our guide to a bold new way of approaching the problems of poverty and housing affordability,”Hensarling said.