HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development

Andrew Cuomo
HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development

Andrew Cuomo, HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, served as founder and president of H.E.L.P., the nation’s largest provider of transitional housing for the homeless. He chaired NYC Mayor David Dinkins’ Commission on the Homeless, served as Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, managed his father’s first campaign for Governor of NY State and subsequently served as Special Assistant to Gov. Mario Cuomo. This interview was conducted on June 2, 1994.
Chester Hartman: The administration’s homelessness plan, Priority Home!, has just been released, and while it’s a product of the Interagency Council on the Homeless, I think it can fairly be described as your document. The general reaction in the homelessness advocacy community is that it’s remarkably good and honest as an analysis of the problem, but all too vague on what to do. What’s your response to that reaction, and how do you see HUD identifying and implementing an action strategy that matches the excellent problem statement?

Andrew Cuomo: The plan has been praised as the first honest analysis that’s been done of the homeless population, programs and policies. This problem has been with us for so long, number one, because we refused to recognize it. You had a federal government that at first wouldn’t talk about the problem, let alone its true depth, complexity and scope. You now have a federal government citing studies showing that there are about 600,000 people on the street at any given time, and about 7,000,000 over the five-year period 1985-1990. This plan is about affordable housing and poverty and racism. It is a frank and candid conversation that’s never taken place. It is a recognition that is a condition precedent to any solution.

The plan then says, after the analysis, the second step is we have to do something about it, we have to journey down a long road, and that requires resources and it calls for doubling the homeless budget, from $823 million to $1.7 billion.

Is it enough to solve the problem? No. And continuing the spirit of candor, we never say that $1.7 billion will solve it. But as a down payment, it is as aggressive as possible, and plausibly as realistic as possible, in this economic climate. The test will be what the Congress does. But it is a significant, bold first step.

Would we have liked in a perfect world to say, here’s the $50 billion necessary to make up for the past decade, and even beyond, for all the injustices? Sure. But life doesn’t work that way.

CH: The plan notes that HUD’s budget, which is now $26 billion, would have been $65 billion if the 1980 budget had merely increased at the inflation rate. Yet the best that HUD and the administration could come up with was a rather measly $2 billion increase. How do you see HUD and the administration ever coming up with the dollars truly needed to meet the National Housing Goal of decent, affordable housing for everyone?

AC: The hope will be that it will happen over time. As I said before, this problem has been a long time in developing and it’s not going to be solved overnight. For the first time, we have an administration that recognizes the problem and wants to do something about it. Hence you see the HUD budget increase. $2 billion is a significant amount of money, especially in a very tough economic climate, and hopefully it will set a trend that the administration can continue over time and will be supported by the Congress.

CH: While an increase of the budget to deal with homelessness clearly is welcome, it apparently came by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Particularly disturbing to folks like us, low-income housing advocates, was the reduction in the public housing budget, the very program that can best assist the housing needs of homeless families. How do you square that kind of tradeoff?

AC: First of all, the budget doesn’t come together that way. The $1.7 billion for the homeless is a presidential initiative, based partially on the analysis in the federal plan which supported the request for a doubling of the homeless budget. The president puts together a budget for the federal government. There are ups and there are downs across the entire government. It does not seem fair to take any one of those decreases and say, this decrease was at the expense of this increase.

Second, public housing is among several programs that can assist homeless families. The budget proposal utilizes public housing resources in a much more efficient way. Of the $1.7 billion request, $514 million represents Section 8 rental assistance.

CH: But it is kind of an irony that the very program that would most help the homeless people is being cut at the same time the homeless budget is being increased.

AC: Actually, I think people who make the argument that homelessness is at the expense of public housing have missed one new development in our homeless plans, which is that homeless monies, the McKinney monies, were formerly transitional monies: shelters, transitional services, etc. The permanent housing asset, which is the ultimate solution, had to come from public housing, Section 8, etc.

That’s no longer the case. Our proposal says, double the homeless budget and make the homeless money eligible as permanent housing. The homeless money can be used for permanent housing, for public housing. Really, what it’s saying is, give the locality more discretion and control on the allocation of resources. We usually made those decisions in Washington. What this plan advocates is giving more money to the locality, let the locality decide how much goes to transitional housing, how much goes to permanent housing. This is a different way of looking at it.

CH: Regarding permanent housing, why hasn’t HUD done more on the military base closings issue to ensure that these properties get used for transitional or permanent housing for homeless persons and for the services that they need?

AC: We’re trying to do more. It’s one of the issues we have been working on over the past year, since we’ve been here. There are a lot of complications that have to be removed. First of all, it’s not just one agency’s purview, it’s not just HUD; it involves other agencies. And in truth other departments take the lead over HUD in administration of the program. You have local NIMBY problems, local siting problems, the way the law is written itself. Title V only allows properties to be used for transitional purposes. We had someone in here this morning – they wanted to build permanent housing on a base. Can’t do it.

CH: That’s forbidden by statute?

AC: There are some statutory problems, there are the regulatory problems and local opposition. We’re working through them and hopefully over the next year there will be some apparent success, because it’s a tremendous resource.

CH: Is there any way of getting that statutory prohibition removed?

AC: We’re looking at that. We are considering a suggestion of placing explicit authority for permanent housing in the statute, but it’s a complicated issue.

CH: How are you going to measure the results of the new homelessness plan? Are there timetables or benchmarks?

AC: The Secretary probably has taken more aggressive stances than many government officials, in that he has set a specific performance measure which he would like to meet, which is reduction of the homeless population by one-third by the end of the administration’s first term.

CH: Is there anything in the plan longer range than that to eliminate homelessness in the United States, or is that simply too far out, in both senses?

AC: The first goal, the first step is the hopeful one-third reduction by the end of 1996.

CH: So that means roughly a 200,000 person reduction. With regard to knowing the extent of the homelessness problem and changes in its magnitude, your report cites the very wide disparities in estimates that have been used. One big issue is how the Census Bureau counts this problem. Some lawsuits are now pending against the Bureau to compel improvement in their procedures for counting these persons. Does HUD plan to work to bring about changes in those counting procedures?

AC: One of our goals is to make sure that inaccurate or misleading numbers are not used in a way that would harm the homeless population. We’ve already started to do this. We changed the regulations regarding the use of Census figures in the CHAS so that the Census numbers cannot be the sole determinant of the homeless population count.

I am generally wary of counts. The reason we used such a broad range is that this is a very tough population to count and quantify. Supposed counts may do more harm than good, and I don’t know that it’s really worth the time and resources that we could expend to try to go out and once and for all get an accurate pinpoint number of how many people are on the streets at any given time.

CH: How does that feed back into a goal of eliminating a third of the homeless population? How will you ever know if you’ve done that?

AC: We are exploring with leading experts ways for obtaining reliable data to measure performance. We have provided extensive technical assistance to state and local governments to help them obtain reliable data on homeless needs for the Comprehensive Housing Assistance (CHAS) Plan (now Consolidated Plan) process. We may be able to look to these state and local plans for reliable information on homeless trends.

CH: What’s your position on the increasing harassment, penalization and criminalization of homeless persons by cities all across the U.S.? Is there anything HUD can do or should do about that?

AC: We should do as much as we can to stop it. There are things that HUD can do. The Secretary has used the bully pulpit and has spoken out against it. I have done the same whenever possible. We have said and will continue to say, especially under the new homeless assistance grant funding, no HUD funds can be used for any such effort.

Overall, what you are seeing is a venting of frustration by local communities and local government. It’s been a long-term problem. It’s only been getting worse. People are frustrated, and they are using police and violence and anger rather than compassion. You’re not going to do it with a stick, and you’re not going to do it with anger. You cannot force somebody into mental health treatment, you cannot force somebody into substance abuse treatment, and you don’t have to force anyone into permanent housing – you just have to give them the funding to get there.

What you really need is resources, you need services and you need signs of success. With the new level of federal involvement, with the new level of funding, you’ll be able to provide alternatives that work.

CH: Let’s move on to the community planning issue. As I am sure you are all too aware, there is considerable unhappiness in the low-income housing advocacy community about your move to merge planning for CDBG, McKinney, HOME, etc. into a Consolidated Plan. Let me list one by one the litany of complaints, and get your response.

First, the process. These groups fought hard to get the CHAS as an effective organizing and planning tool, yet within months of your appointment it was DOA, without any consultation with those groups. You then tried, unsuccessfully, to suspend the CHAS immediately. People have been turned off by the local hearings on the Consolidated Plan, saying they are a sham, too rushed, not representative. What’s your reaction to this feeling that Andrew Cuomo doesn’t take seriously the obligation to consult with the relevant advocacy groups?

AC: I think we have to separate a disagreement on outcome from a lack of process. Objectively, I don’t think anyone can point to a more inclusive, more consultative process than we employed on the discussions of the CHAS, Consolidated Plan, etc. We have monthly meetings here in Washington with all of the housing, community development and public interest groups. We had 21 community meetings throughout the country. Over 20,000 people attended the meetings and discussed their concerns. There was literally unprecedented attendance. In the big cities like New York and Los Angeles, we had 1200, 1500 people; in smaller cities like Columbus, Ohio, 600 people came out in mid-January temperatures of minus 30 degrees. So I don’t think you could have had a more open, consultative process.

Are the advocacy groups completely happy? No. You have a lot of parties to this document. You have low-income housing interests, the interests of local governments, the interests of homeless providers, the interests of economic development activists. All those concerns have to be weighed and taken into consideration. If I were to make the low-income housing activists, for example, completely happy, maybe it would have been at the expense of other equally viable interests. So sometimes in the art of compromise you try the best you can to address everyone’s concerns.

CH: The second issue has to do with targeting. The feeling is that when you mush all these programs and all those actors together, those with the greatest needs, which ought to be HUD’s priority, will get shortchanged. Is that likely to happen?

AC: Implicit in your question is the belief that the CHAS was the most efficient and effective housing planning device that could be constructed. When I came to HUD, I met with a lot of groups. Everyone had complaints with the CHAS. I said, maybe we could do better than the CHAS.

There was such a level of enthusiasm and excitement in the Consolidated Plan hearings, and the reason is very simple. It says, have one plan, rather than four separate documents that nobody reads and if they read them, they can’t understand them – the CHAS, the CDBG final statement, the HOME description, the ESG plan of action – documents which separate the world into CDBG is what your CD needs are, HOME is what your housing needs are, and ESG is what your homelessness needs are.

And that one plan probably will be more intelligent because it will speak to your housing needs, but it will also speak to your economic development needs and your human services needs. All of them should have been on the same table at the same time for effective and informed policy decisions. Because if you were planning your CDBG program and you weren’t talking about the homeless and you weren’t talking about human services needs, then you weren’t having the right discussion. And if you were talking about your housing under the CHAS and you weren’t talking about your public services, your transportation, and your job training, then you weren’t effectively planning your housing either. That’s not the way the world works and that’s not what people need.

Moreover, one thing that strikes me is the disconnect between what you hear in Washington and what you hear in the rest of the nation.

CH: That’s certainly not the first time that observation’s been made about Washington: 60 square miles surrounded by reality.

AC: You take the person whose job it is to prepare the CDBG final statement or the group who consults on the CDBG final statement, to them it does make a difference, because the document that they built no longer exists. And you get more of those types in this town. But out there in the real world, when you say, I’m going to take four documents that you never heard of anyway, that you never read, that don’t mean anything, that you couldn’t get your hands on, that cost money to duplicate, and I’m going to put them into one document, into one readable form – and then tell the local government, you are going to put that one form on a computer disk and you’re going to make it available to every not-for-profit organization, you’re going to put it in your libraries, you’re going to put it on your C-Span when you get a chance. I believe those separate reports and those separate plans and all that bureaucratese kept people from getting involved in the process. And HUD didn’t disapprove one plan – the local governments know that. And they know it’s a paper exercise that they go through, it’s a paper tiger but it’s not going to lead to anything.

I want to have a real plan that means something and then say, if it does not make sense, you’re not getting the money. It’s going to be understandable. It’s going to go out to real people who can understand it. It must encourage people to show up to a common council meeting for the first time and actually weigh in, and know that they’ve been heard.

If you were to poll the Consolidated Plan among the 20,000 people who cared enough to show up to a forum, I would bet you dollars to donuts it wins 75/25. I know a little bit about politics and I’ve spoken to a number of groups and I can see their faces. Those who disagree with the Plan are primarily in Washington or seem to have a specific interest in one of those documents. Are these persons in contact with their constituency – the ones who, at the local level, tell me they like the Plan?

CH: Looking at the CHAS versus the standards for the Consolidated Plan, people are concerned the Plan will no longer have the detailed housing needs statements that permit focusing on the worst case groups, and similar gaps appear with respect to race and homelessness and special needs populations. Given the importance of good data for effective programs, how do you justify eliminating all that important information?

AC: We don’t believe it was eliminated.

CH: You regard the standards for the Consolidated Plan as equally precise and detailed in terms of data collection?

AC: I think the new document provides more information, more intelligence, more citizen participation than the CHAS. I think it goes further in protecting the rights of low-income people than the CHAS ever did.

CH: The final sort of complaint that comes out relates to accountability and enforcement. You’ll be giving discretion to the HUD Area Offices, the very same officials who, as you’ve acknowledged, haven’t been very good about dealing with the CHAS or weren’t able or willing to enforce those requirements. If there are no clear federal standards in the Consolidated Plan, particularly with regard to such critical issues as fair share and targeting, is it realistic to expect good results from local HUD officials? And what systems will you have to monitor those results and require compliance from these local offices and local governments?

AC: This Department has never disapproved a CHAS and hence withheld federal funding. So as a vehicle to protect the rights of low-income residents, I think you have to question an activist or an advocate who was defending a document like the CHAS when that document has not in one instance in this nation completely withheld federal funding because low-income people were not getting enough.

CH: Will it be better now or just not worse?

AC: It will be much better. If you disapproved one plan, it will be a 100% increase. But we plan to do more than 100%. The reason the local HUD people didn’t do it was because the local HUD people knew the political will in the administration didn’t exist. It is not that they didn’t think that there were CHAS’s that should have been disapproved, but frankly they didn’t think they would get the support from the Headquarters office. They now know that Secretary Cisneros and I are serious about it, that we will stand up for them. I think you’ll see a significant difference.

CH: A situation just arose in Rochester which someone has referred to as “a preview of Con Plan hell,” which suggests what the future of the Consolidated Plan process may be. Rochester, as you know, got HUD’s permission to do a Consolidated Plan submission prior to next year’s requirement to do so. At a public hearing just held on the proposed Plan, the city, ignoring the recommendations of its own housing task force, indicated that it will not spend a penny of CDBG or HOME money for renters with incomes below 30% of the median – and there are 24,000 such persons in Rochester. Over $8 million of these funds will be spent on those with higher incomes. What will or would HUD do in such a situation? Would you let them get away with it?

AC: No. If it is as you describe, then that Plan should be questioned at a minimum and possibly probably disapproved.

CH: Let me turn to a third area, the Empowerment/Enterprise Zones. You are on the verge of announcing the 104 winning communities. From what I’ve been hearing, there is considerable unhappiness with the process, particularly the lack of true citizen participation in developing the applications and each community’s strategic plan. And since citizen participation, along with added social services, is presumably what makes the Clinton approach different from the Kemp/Reagan/Bush approach to revitalizing inner-city communities, how would you respond to the criticism that there has not been enough citizen participation or the right kind of citizen participation?

AC: The Empowerment Zones are the first truly community-wide empowering mechanisms that we’ve seen. I’ve attended empowerment zone forums all across the country, and everyone tells me that their community came together for the first time. The Empowerment Zone process sets as a mandate community participation. If an application was prepared without significant community participation, then that would not be a winning application.

CH: How will you judge that?

AC: The application has to document it. I know that there are applications coming in, Plans being prepared, that have had hundreds of hours of community meetings. The vast experience is the exact opposite, because we’ve said that unless you do it you’re not going to win. So the community involvement is unprecedented, and those who have not had as much community involvement will not be as competitive.

CH: A second issue – similar to the concern about Consolidated Plan procedures – is accountability. How will HUD continue to exert proper supervision over those winning communities to ensure continuing real citizen participation? The CDBG program hasn’t exactly been a model for this, and even the minimum requirements in CDBG regulations for open forums, notice and comment period, hearings, etc. are missing from the program. How are you going to keep ongoing supervision of that involvement? Even if it was there at the beginning, how do you know it’s going to stay there afterwards?

AC: The application would have to lay out how it’s going to stay there.

CH: Then there will then be continuing supervision to ensure that whatever they promise is being adhered to?

AC: The funding is not lump sum. The funding is on an annual basis, so the application will make representations – one of them will be as to community involvement initially and on an ongoing basis. The funding will then be on an annual basis, contingent upon the performance as outlined.

CH: And the Area Offices will make that judgment?

AC: There will be a special unit that oversees the Empowerment Zones.

CH: They’ll travel around the country?

AC: They’ll likely be within Area Offices, but reporting directly to the central HUD office.

CH: HUD runs primarily bricks and mortar programs. But one of the key lessons in the past decade is the importance of community mobilization around such issues as crime, drugs and neighborhood improvement. ACORN and other groups have been pushing Secretary Cisneros to fund more grassroots activism as part of HUD’s mission to rebuild cities. Is there anything on your agenda to further that kind of a move?

AC: We have, in the proposed housing act, a program to fund not-for-profit organizations directly, specifically for grassroots mobilization, community organization, and to give not-for-profit organizations the administrative capacity and ability to do it.

CH: This is apart from the Enterprise/Empowerment zones?

AC: Right. The program is called Community Viability. It would be about a $100 million program, the primary thrust of which would be to fund not-for-profits directly. The only program that the Office of Community Planning & Development now runs for community organizations within the entire CPD budget of $6 billion is a program called the John Heinz Neighborhood Demonstration Program. It’s $10 million, with a maximum grant of $50,000. It’s a program that enhances the ability of small fledgling nonprofits to carry out the essential work of grassroots neighborhood development. CPD is committed to doing more of this kind of activity through the Office of Community Viability. [This interview was held on June 2. As of late July, it appears certain that the Community Viability program, if, as is likely, Congress enacts it as part of the housing bill, will be funded at a far lower level than $100 million – CH.]

CH: Perhaps the most important concern being raised about Empowerment and Enterprise Zones has to do with the economic development model underlying it. Experience to date with this approach strongly indicates that it’s very difficult to ensure that the jobs are created for the residents of these communities and that they are good jobs, with adequate benefits, decent pay and opportunities for advancement. How do you propose to ensure that the real beneficiaries are the people most in need and not the businesses you want to lure into these neighborhoods? Neither the legislation nor the interim regulations would seem to provide such guarantees.

AC: By definition, the main tax incentive is a wage credit which only goes to an employer if they hire an individual from the Zone. That far and away is the main subsidy.

CH: But that doesn’t speak to the quality of the job. How do you in any way influence that the jobs are not going to be the classic dead-end, low-paying, no benefits, no advancement type jobs? Or is there really no way of guaranteeing that?

AC: That will be one of the factors in the application that comes in. What employee benefits are there? what employee programs? what is the likelihood of success? Obviously, an application that comes in that is attracting a business that shows more promise in the future for some employees than a hamburger or food joint is probably a more competitive application.

CH: That leads me to a related issue: welfare reform. You, along with Mike Stegman, are one of the Department’s two representatives on the administration’s Working Group on Welfare Reform. Critics of the proposal that has emerged from this group point to the absence of any real training or job creation program that will make a time limit on benefits possible or humane. The issue, as many of us see it, is not ending welfare as we know it but ending poverty as we know it. How do you see those jobs being created all over the country, quite apart from the 104 jurisdictions that will get the Enterprise or Empowerment grant? How do you ensure that all over the country people on welfare who may be subject, say, to a two-year limit are going to get jobs, if there are no training or job creation programs in place?

AC: That’s the $64,000 question.

CH: But it picks up from the Enterprise/Empowerment approach. You have a model in mind for 104 communities. Is that model in any way going to be transportable to the rest of the country?

AC: You have a model for community development for 104 areas, a component of which is economic development. The question for welfare reform, in this national economy, is where do you generate enough low-paying jobs, enough minimum skill jobs that pay a wage high enough to support a family and which offer advancement opportunity and hope for the individual? That’s the challenge of welfare reform. In welfare reform, as it is conceived, these two years are a transitional period with services, with job training, preparatory services leading to a job at the end of two years.

Now where does the job come from at the end of two years? As I said, the $64,000 question is dependent upon a lot of things. Probably most important, in my opinion, is where the national economy is and what businesses this nation is generating and where is this nation competing in the global marketplace and what is our niche? If we are no longer a manufacturing economy, where do the low-skilled workers have their place? And that is a very real problem beyond welfare. That is a national phenomenon that makes welfare reform all the more difficult.

CH: Presumably you don’t feel that the Working Group really has been able to come to grips with that.

AC: I think it would be unrealistic to think the Welfare Reform Working Group would or should come up with a plan to change this nation’s position in the global marketplace. But understanding that challenge, welfare reform will have to come up with a place for those people if they are to be off welfare, which everyone wants them to be. Two years, one year, three years – the question is where do they go? And if it’s not a private sector job, then there has to be a solution – a public sector job with a stipend that pays well, assistance for private sector jobs. But that has to be taken into consideration, and it has been taken into consideration and will continue to be taken into consideration.

CH: Possibly as important an issue in welfare reform is housing – its availability, cost and location. We know how inadequate welfare grants are compared with actual housing costs and how poorly welfare recipients are housed. Yet housing is virtually missing from the whole welfare reform debate. Can you comment on that?

AC: Throughout the Working Group’s discussions and in the ultimate welfare reform legislation and discussion, the cost of housing has to be a significant factor. $14,000 for a family of four technically moves them out of poverty. If they’re paying $500 in rent, that means nearly half their income is going to housing. So it’s not $14,000, it’s $8,000 you’re living on. I don’t think you can have an intelligent conversation without factoring in the cost of housing.

CH: My impression is that housing solutions have not been an integral part of the Working Group’s approach.

AC: You can solve the housing problem in a number of ways. If somebody has enough income, housing is not a problem. And they are looking more from an income supplement point of view than housing subsidies.

AC: They were not left out. It’s a question of funding and a question of resources and priorities, but I have no doubt that the singles must be addressed and will be addressed. You see a beginning of that with the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion, and I have no doubt that that will continue with the welfare reform debate.

CH: Two more questions, on two other issues: First, how do you feel about the community-based housing programs? Are they working well, and do you have any plans to change the CHDO program?

AC: CHDO’s have been very successful thus far. CHDO’s are an essential component of the HOME Program, Community Viability and economic development programs. The capacity of not-for-profits is an unexploited asset of this country. We have to get them funding on the local level, and we have to get to them directly. That’s part of what we are trying to do with Community Viability. That’s part of what we are doing with the Consolidated Plan. We have just put out or we will be putting out a NOFA for technical assistance funding for CHDO’s, etc. which is $50 million, compared to a $25 million NOFA last year. So it’s a priority and we’re putting resources where our priorities are.

CH: Let me ask you about linking housing with services. Do you think HUD’s going to begin to reinvent itself to finally address the services component of housing? How will HUD work with HHS, as well as other agencies like Labor and Education, to create genuine community revitalization and real anti-poverty programs?

AC: If the question of welfare was the $64,000 question, that’s the $65,000 question. The elusive concept of coordination among federal departments has to happen. Because the way the problems are presented on a community level mandate that housing and services and income supports and job training all be interconnected and intertwined. We’ve known that for years. There is no new pearl of wisdom there. It’s just that the way government is organized is exactly opposite of that. Government thinks in categories and categorical programs, but the community’s problems are presented as an interrelated whole.

CH: How are we ever going to override that?

AC: Empowerment Zones are a start. The Empowerment Zone says to the community, you give us one plan for community revitalization not harnessed or blinded by government programs or government regulations or government organization. They don’t have to think in terms of HUD, HHS, Department of Labor. Give us one plan. Just make it work. Don’t worry about how government is organized or how it will fit within government’s bureaucracy, and we will fund that plan rather than that plan representing the organization of government programs. Which is a fundamentally different approach.

Normally, when you did community development, you had to build housing the way HUD said, and then you had to come up with a job training program the way DOL said, and then you had to come up with an income supplement program the way HHS said, and you had to make them all fit. It’s not the way you would have done it, it’s not the way that was efficient, it’s not the way that was effective, but that’s the way you had to do it because that’s how the money came. Empowerment Zones say, forget all that – what is the best way to do it? I will give them one check. Fine, do it that way and we’ll fund that.

CH: Is the Interagency Council on the Homeless in any way a model for coordination?

AC: Yes, but I think Empowerment Zones is a broader model, because it is codified. There’s another, new entity that may be a better model, a Community Enterprise Board, which is headed by the vice president and consists of the eleven main cabinet secretaries. And that is a tremendous vehicle for coordination and stripping away the somewhat false boundaries between the different federal departments. If Empowerment Zones prove to be the success that we are looking for, I think it will serve as a significant precedent for the way that government is organized in the first place.

CH: How long will it take to test the Empowerment Zone concept?

AC: Several years. I think you’ll start to see success right away, but the full impact is going to take several years.

CH: And you will be making your announcement of the Empowerment/Enterprise Zone winners soon?

AC: Hopefully by the end of the year.

This interview is part of a series of interviews of HUD officials. Joseph Schuldiner, Assistant Secretary for Public Housing will be featured in the next issue.

Shelterforce did another interview with Andrew Cuomo when he became HUD Secretary.

 

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