Martinez To Step Down As Hud Secretary
|December 9, 2003
Led HUD During Record Years in Housing, Fought For Homebuyer Rights
WASHINGTON - Mel Martinez, the nation's 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, today announced he is resigning from the office he assumed on January 24, 2001. The resignation is effective at noon on Friday, December 12, 2003.
"It has been a great privilege to serve in the President's Cabinet and lead the 9,300 hard-working employees of HUD," said Martinez. "President Bush understands the importance of our work, and the many positive ways in which it is transforming families and communities. Together, we have expanded homeownership opportunities to more Americans and helped countless others find affordable housing in the communities of their choice."
Under the leadership of President Bush, Martinez put HUD's $32 billion budget to work to more effectively support the millions of Americans the Department serves. The Department has responded to tough housing challenges, homelessness, consumer protection issues and a multitude of public housing concerns and implemented innovative solutions to address each challenge.
- HUD launched the Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership in response to the President's challenge to close the homeownership gap between minority and non-minority Americans by creating 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010. Since President Bush announced this goal in June 2002, more than 1 million minority families have become homeowners.
- President Bush proposed the $200 million American Dream Downpayment Act to help more than 40,000 low-income families annually make the move into homeownership. Congress passed the Act and it is awaiting the President's signature.
- The Department announced sweeping reforms to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act to improve the process of obtaining home mortgages and reduce settlement costs by as much as $700 for the average consumer.
- HUD developed 16 rules to address deceptive or fraudulent lending practices. This includes rules establishing the Appraiser Watch program, improving Credit Watch to identify problem loans and lenders earlier on, initiating new standards for home inspectors, and prohibiting "flipping" in FHA programs.
- HUD stepped up efforts to combat predatory lending by target ingunscrupulous lenders, increasing enforcement staff and resources, and coordinating with other federal government agencies to fight abusive lending practices. The result was the highest number of prosecutions, convictions and settlements in the Department's history.
- The Department provided FHA mortgage insurance for over 2 million families and provided billions in mortgage capital for FHA, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Housing Service.
- President Bush proposed record funding levels of $2.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and $65 million for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program (SHOP).HOME is one of HUD's major tools for helping local communities meet housing-affordability needs, while SHOP reaches out to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity that are working to turn low-income Americans into homeowners through "sweat equity."\
MAKING HOUSING AFFORDABLE
- The Department launched "America's Affordable Communities Initiative," a Department-wide effort to help communities across America identify and overcome regulatory barriers that impede the availability of housing.
- HUD unveiled its Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse, a web-based forum offering states, local governments, builders and developers nationwide the ability to share ideas and solutions for overcoming state and local regulatory barriers to the production of affordable housing.
- The Department reduced the premiums on FHA multifamily housing to increase the number of apartment development loans. The premium reduction will insure $43 billion in apartment loans, spurring the annual production of an estimated 42,000 additional rental units. Most of the apartments will serve moderate-income families in underserved areas.
- The Department instituted a 25 percent increase in the loan limits for FHA multifamily insurance. The increase was the first of its kind in a decade and is generating affordable housing development throughout the nation.
- President Bush proposed record funding for enforcement of the nation's fair housing laws. This commitment was reinforced in April 2003, when HUD launched a $1 million educational campaign designed to raise awareness about fair housing. The "Accents" ad earned the prestigious National Ad Council Award for being oneof the best ads of 2003.
ENDING CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS IN 10 YEARS
- President Bush reactivated the Interagency Council on Homelessness, and as a result, 18 federal agencies are now working collaboratively to achieve the goal of ending chronic homelessness in ten years. Today, nearly 60 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are following the Department's lead and have either put 10-year homeless plans in place or are in the process of developing them.
- For two consecutive years, President Bush announced the largest amount of homeless assistance in the nation's history - over $1 billion annually - to fund thousands of local housing and service programs around the country.
"I am indebted to the President and greatly honored to have served with the people of HUD," said Martinez. "HUD's staff boasts some of the most talented and dedicated public servants of any federal department. I am inspired on a daily basis by their compassion and by the sense of purpose they bring to their work."