Washington Outlook

Akron Mayor Plusquellic: The Reinvented HUD Has Changed For The Better

by Eugene T. Lowe
October 9, 2000

Testifying on Management Reforms of the Department of Housing and Urban Development before the Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Transportation, Akron Mayor and Conference of Mayors Trustee Donald Plusquellic said that "HUD has changed for the better under the stewardship of Secretary Cuomo and Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez." Mayor Plusquellic testified along with five other witnesses before the subcommittee, Chaired by Senator Wayne Allard (CO), on September 26.

From the perspective of how the HUD reforms has helped his city, Mayor Plusquellic said: "HUD is now in the best shape I have seen since I first worked with it more than twenty years ago. HUD has provided us with the means and expertise to undertake a number of creative programs that have resulted in benefits for our city and our neediest citizens."

Mayor Plusquellic cited the creation of the Community Builders Program, where the city has a local HUD staff person to assist the city navigate "the ins and outs of a still large federal department (HUD)." In addition, the mayor said that "HUD had drastically simplified the application process for federal funds to make it much more customer-friendly."

A number of other HUD programs have been tremendously effective for Akron: being designated as an Enterprise Community to help revitalize the city's high poverty areas; receiving a 1998 HOPE VI grant to demolish one of the city's worst housing projects; and, receiving Continuum of Care funds for city programs in homelessness.

Other witnesses at the hearing were HUD Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez, HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney, Associate Director on Housing and Community Development Issues of the General Accounting Office Stanley J. Czerwinski, Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University Maurice McTigue, and Senior Fellow in Government Studies of the Heritage Foundation Virginia Thomas.

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