The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development welcomes the first Universal Periodic Review for the United States. Under the Obama Administration, HUD is making a concerted effort to become fully engaged in the global discussion of creating socially and environmentally sustainable urban communities, rooted in safe, decent, and affordable shelter.
In the context of our current economic challenges, the U.S. is aggressively working toward a more focused, balanced and expansive role for housing and community development programs. The U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review process helps to inform and influence our nation’s effort to dramatically increase the amount of affordable housing, especially for those struggling to find a place to call home.
Despite the challenging economic times, we are making significant progress. For the first time ever, the U.S. has a comprehensive Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, Opening Doors. The plan makes ending homelessness in America a national priority. Opening Doors outlines an interagency collaboration that aligns mainstream housing, health, education, and human services to prevent Americans from experiencing homelessness in the future. The plan includes a set of strategies that call upon the federal government to work in partnership with the private sector, philanthropy, and state and local governments to employ cost effective, comprehensive solutions to end homelessness. Our partners at the local level have already made tremendous strides, with communities across the nation.
This Administration has also made solid progress in rebuilding New Orleans, returning families to their homes and working to revive the city’s housing market.
When President Obama took office, over 40,000 families from New Orleans were in trailers or on emergency housing vouchers and thousands were at risk of losing their homes within weeks. Nearly 98 percent of those families are in permanent housing and the four public housing projects are being rebuilt and hundreds of families have already moved back in.
HUD has also created an Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities to foster and encourage innovation. The office has created unprecedented partnerships across federal agencies and is providing resources and tools to help communities realize their own visions for building more livable, walkable, environmentally sustainable regions.
HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities will also help contribute to building a new clean energy economy by working with other federal agencies, states and local communities, and industry partners to catalyze innovation and develop strategies to reduce energy consumption in the residential sector. These innovations will help create new green jobs, spur economic growth, and assist regions to become more competitive on a national and global scale.
We know we have more to do, but we are convinced that through continuing innovation, expanding partnerships and a comprehensive blueprint, housing can provide an opportunity to lift the standard of living for millions of our citizens, both here and around the world.
Again, we commend the U.N. on this thoughtful review. We also recognize the importance of our partners in the Non-Governmental Organizations community for their invaluable efforts in guiding this review. Rest assured that in the United States, you have an active partner in the effort to improve housing and living conditions for all.