View Header


Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release February 4, 1999

     Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that the

National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work together to build an additional one million new homes over the next 10 years in cities all across America.

Joining the Vice President for the announcement were Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, NAHB President Charles Ruma, and Michelle Speaks, a single mother who recently purchased a home in one of Baltimore's new housing developments.

"The agreement we are announcing today represents another example of how the public and private sector can team together to help strengthen America's families and communities," Vice President Gore said.

"By committing to build one million new homes over the next ten years, the homebuilders, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will create new opportunities for affordable home ownership and help American families fulfill the dream of owning their own home -- all of which will also help to revitalize and strengthen America's cities," he added.

"This is the first widely implemented public-private partnership to create new housing in our cities," Cuomo said. "It recognizes that home builders can do good things for cities and do well financially at the same time. HUD and cities will work to coordinate available public resources to make it easier to build homes in cities. Home builders will work to expand their businesses in cities."

Under the signed agreement:

      HUD will provide specially trained staff persons, known as
     Community Builders, in the the first participating cities to help
     mayors and homebuilders identify new federal resources, such as the
     HOME Program, Homeownership Zones, Empowerment Zones, and technical
     assistance grants as well as ensure coordination of existing
     federal resources and programs. In addition, the Department has
     requested $50 million in the President's FY 2000 budget for
     Brownyards to Backyards, a new initiative designed to assist cities
     in reclaiming brownfields and replacing abandoned buildings where
     appropriate with new housing.

      NAHB will work through its more than 800 state and local home
     builder associations to encourage home builders to pursue urban
     residential development opportunities while working with local
     jurisdictions to identify and remove barriers to urban home

      The Conference of Mayors will urge its members to join in the
     partnership, and work with HUD and NAHB to help cities develop and
     implement strategies for removing barriers to new home production.

     The goal of the partnership is to produce 100,000 new housing units

a year over the next decade, including both single family homes and apartments, though the focus of the partnership effort will be increasing homeownership. Last month Secretary Cuomo announced that the urban homeownership rate was 50 percent while the nation's suburban homeownership rate was just over 73 percent.

The initiative will begin with the establishment of pilot programs in five to ten cities, from which models will be developed to use as part of the national effort. An advisory council, the Council on Building Homes in America's Cities, consisting of representatives from HUD, NAHB, USCM and other community based organizations will meet within the next month to determine the selection criteria for the pilot cities.

Once the pilot cities are selected, the council will facilitate communication and interaction between HUD, participating cities, home builders, partners of the National Homeownership Strategy, and other community-based organizations. The Council also will monitor the initiative's progress, develop models of successful approaches and compile and communicate best practices agreements.

Building more homes in the nation's cities is a central component of the Clinton-Gore Administration's broader goal of aggressively investing in already established urban neighborhoods, and providing further opportunities for homeownership to traditionally under served populations, including African Americans and Hispanics.

The partnership will also complement the Administrations' efforts to stimulate private investment in urban areas and contribute towards helping localities plan and build more "livable communities".

A recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies concluded that new home construction has largely by-passed central cities. In 1994, less than 10 percent of all single family home construction occurred in cities. That same year, in many large cities, including Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Harford, Miami, Milwaukee, Providence, Rochester, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., less than 100 new homes were constructed.

As chair of the President's Community Empowerment Board, the Vice President oversees the Administration's Community Empowerment Agenda, which includes a series of initiatives to provide greater opportunity in, and expand the competitiveness of, our distressed urban and rural areas. An important part of the agenda has been to spur the private sector to play a greater role in these areas.