U.S. Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Ron Sims delivers the keynote address at COG's 2009 Annual Membership Luncheon.
Washington, DC – With a stirring call to “be the place that takes the American experience and makes it work,” Deputy Secretary Ron Sims of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, called on the region’s elected officials and other members of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) to continue their focus on the region’s “haves and have-nots, sustainability and livability.”
“Your task is formidable – you get to be the American lab, Mr. Sims said. “This region reflects what we say to the rest of America and the rest of the world.”
Deputy Sec. Sims delivered the keynote address today at COG’s annual membership luncheon. He expressed strong support for the goals of COG’s Greater Washington 2050, which seeks to coordinate development and transportation planning as well as environmental and affordable housing concerns. He also stressed the importance of ending homelessness and addressing huge disparities in health and education status based on where people live.
He said the nation cannot afford to lose any individual, neighborhood or child, particularly in an era of great international competition. “(HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and I say that a zip code should be an address, not a life determinant,” he added.
Dep. Sec. Sims also focused on changes in his department, saying that under President Obama and Sec. Donovan, HUD has become a community development agency instead of simply a housing agency. He noted that HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities now will coordinate with the federal Departments of Transportation (DOT,) Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) In addition, he said HUD, DOT and EPA will work together to review applications for some transportation stimulus grants.
While answering questions from the audience, Mr. Sims said HUD plans to work with DOT to target resources to specific neighborhoods and zip codes. HUD also hopes, pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget, to work with other federal agencies to deliver services to homeless people after providing them with housing under an approach called Housing First.