Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, the concentration of poverty, any way one looks at it, simply stated is not productive. It is inhumane, unethical. It is not diverse and does not work.
According to the 1999 census data, 32.3 million people in the United States live in poverty. That gives us a poverty rate of 11.8 percent. The National Coalition reports as many as 3 million people are homeless during the course of a year. Of this number, 80,000 of them are in the City of Chicago. The concept of mixing income in neighborhoods offers the best practice of hope for low-income individuals. [Page: H4706]
Chicago, one of the most poverty-stricken cities in the Nation, has a tremendous need to uplift the quality of life for its residents. Currently, in Chicago the Robert Taylor and Rockwell Gardens developments, two of the most well-known public housing developments in the country, are in separate need of Hope VI funding which will allow integration and economic prosperity.
I stand today, Mr. Chairman, to beg, to implore, to appeal to the entire 107th Congress, and to argue to increase the funding for this program by $100 million. Hope VI provides disadvantaged families and communities across the country with opportunities for revitalization and new chances, chances for advancement.
All of us would probably agree, Mr. Chairman, that it is time to tear down the high-rise public housing developments, the high-rises, as we know them, the concentrations of poverty. These families need hope and an adequate chance. It is time to fight inner city crime, teen pregnancy, high unemployment, which are all concentrated in the urban ghettos that exist in this Nation centered around high-rise public housing developments.
To improve the quality of life for these families, it is necessary to improve the quality of public housing. We can do that by providing the necessary support services, the programs, that encourage residents to go to school, find employment, develop careers, and realize a better quality of life. All of this is found in HOPE VI.
By 1999, HOPE VI had provided benefits to 7,840 current resident families, including 4,076 families relocated to section 8 in new units, 5,668 new families in revitalized development, 1,969 families leaving TANF, and a 98 percent increase of youth participation in self-sufficiency programs. HOPE VI had achieved leveraged ratios of 31 cents for every dollar in 1993 and increased this ratio to $2.07 by 1999. HOPE VI revitalization has reduced the average density of on-site development from 23 to
11 and the average percentage of very low income families from 92 to 35 percent. The ultimate outcome of these developments has improved the quality of life for residents of HOPE VI developments and better integration into the overall community.
The city of Chicago has a bold new transformation plan for public housing, and, that is to replace the high-rises with mixed-income housing where individuals can interact with different-type persons across the board. But that transformation plan is contingent upon being able to receive assistance from HOPE VI. Unless there is adequate funding for HOPE VI, then we run the risk of going to the well and there being no water, of going to the trough and there being no substance.
And so I would urge, Mr. Chairman, that we support this amendment and continue to give hope to the millions of people who need hope and can receive it through the HOPE VI program.
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment would cut $100 million from the Public Housing Capital Fund in order to increase the HOPE VI program. As has been discussed today, we have already reduced the capital program for public housing. So I do not think it is a good idea to go any further.
The bill provides for $573 million in the HOPE VI program which is at the same level as last year. As the gentleman knows, the bill already includes a reduction below last year for capital fund based on the unspent fund problem. There are approximately $7 billion in unspent funds in the capital fund. There has been a lot of discussion and opposition to cutting it further or even cutting it that much. However, we do maintain funding for those public housing authorities which are actually spending
The gentleman's amendment would cut $100 million of the $262 million we have targeted to those high-performing public housing authorities in order to provide a 17 percent increase in HOPE VI. While I appreciate his support for HOPE VI, I must point out that, like the Public Housing Capital Fund, HOPE VI is another account where there are significant amounts of unspent funds. In fact, there are over $3 billion in unspent HOPE VI funds. So while I share the gentleman's support for the program,
I cannot support cutting the capital fund further in order to provide a 17 percent increase in the HOPE VI program and, therefore, I urge the rejection of the amendment.
Mr. FRANK. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, if someone is doing an illustrated dictionary and needs perhaps a metaphorical or a dictionary of figures of speech and wants to illustrate the phrase ``robbing Peter to pay Paul,'' that is the dilemma we are in now.
I know the gentleman from Illinois who cares deeply about lower income people is as unhappy as many of us on this side in particular are at this kind of choice. I admire his commitment to the HOPE VI program which has been a very important one, because HOPE VI has been extremely useful in my district. My dilemma is that we also have a problem with public housing capital funds. And so, Mr. Chairman, Members who are undecided as to how to vote on this will get no guidance from me. They seem on
the whole to do without that in general, so that is okay. But this is important because it underlines the tragedy that this bill represents. It quite literally sets the poor against the poor, lower income working people against lower income working people, public housing against subsidized housing for the elderly, anticrime/drug efforts in public housing against efforts to rehabilitate that housing.
This indicates how terribly inadequate this bill is. The gentleman from New York said no matter how much money there was, people would say it was inadequate. I have to tell him he is wrong, and I hope he will test us someday. Come in here with a bill that does not cut virtually every program in real terms.
Let us talk about the public housing situation. The public housing operating budget is cut in real terms. We are told it gets an increase, but out of that increase they are supposed to pay the higher utility bills. By the way, the Secretary of HUD when he testified before our committee and was asked what the budget assumed, the operating budget for public housing regarding fuel bills, he told us he did not endorse this. He, as a good soldier, told us that the Energy Department had instructed
him to say that the expectation is that fuel bills next year will be lower for the housing authorities and, therefore, they were to get less money for that. They are to get some additional money and out of that pay for the public housing drug elimination program.
On the capital funds, it has already been reduced some. We are told, well, it is reduced because they have not spent it all. They have not spent it all in part because you do not spend responsibly right away, you have to do capital planning, and they are doing this.
This bill underfunds virtually every category where we are dealing with housing. Public housing in particular deserves our attention. I quoted before the President's laudable sentiment that he would not leave any child behind. More poor children live in public housing than in any other segment obviously of our society.
And we are talking about this terrible choice. The gentleman from Illinois is not attacking public housing. The HOPE VI program helps public housing. What we are talking about here, as he correctly brings to us with this amendment, is this terrible choice about public housing. Which aspect of it will we underfund the worst? Will we let the projects deteriorate in general with inadequate capital funding? Will we allow, under HOPE VI, some concentration to improve them?
There are other areas of problems. I will be getting later to the question of the Federal Housing Administration. I want to stress again, it is not simply the poor and lower income working people who are being hurt by this Congress' failure and this administration's refusal adequately to fund things, the FHA program that builds multiple family housing for middle-income people has been shut down for months for want of $40 million; and it will turn out later that they are, in fact, overcharging
in other FHA programs, we are told by more than $50 million.
So this amendment is to me a terrible dilemma. We have two very valuable programs that serve the poorest people in this society, and we have to [Page: H4707]
choose between them. The President said we need to do a tax cut of that magnitude because it is not the government's money, it is the people's money. People live in public housing. The government does not live in public housing. The residents of public housing are people who are in need. This dilemma is brought
upon us by that irresponsible tax cut.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I had planned to offer an amendment regarding the National Science Foundation, an amendment that would help assure some much-needed expertise in scientific project management for the National Science Foundation. Rather than offer an amendment that might not have an appropriate dollar amount, I would like to engage in a colloquy with the distinguished gentleman from New York concerning the construction of scientific facilities and instruments provided in the National Science Foundation
First let me congratulate the gentleman from New York and the Committee on Appropriations as well as his staff for the well-thought-out NSF appropriation. As he knows, NSF's primary mission includes funding peer-reviewed, investigator-initiated research by individuals or small groups. This is an operation that the NSF has managed well. However, NSF has seen its role in funding larger projects such as the construction of radio and optical telescopes expand significantly in recent years. Problems
encountered in the management of some of these projects and concerns raised by the NSF inspector general suggest that the NSF may not have an adequate plan, adequate experience or adequate resources with which to effectively oversee these large-ticket projects. Indeed, language in the President's budget blueprint directs NSF to develop a plan ``to enhance its capability to estimate costs and provide oversight of project development and construction.''
Does the Committee on Appropriations share these concerns?
Mr. WALSH. We do. The Committee on Appropriations shares the gentleman's concern concerning the current lack of oversight for project management within the National Science Foundation. In its March 2000 report to Congress, the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation reported that ``NSF does not have adequate policies and procedures in place to address the complex problems involved in overseeing and administering large infrastructure awards.'' This is why the committee report included
language directing NSF to establish project management procedures and accounting systems.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Reclaiming my time, I think that is excellent. The National Science Foundation is currently drafting a facilities management and oversight plan and is expected to present a final draft to the National Science Board at their August meeting. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Research, I will be holding a hearing early in September to review this policy and try to ensure that it will adequately address concerns with regard to accounting, appropriate management, and construction
oversight of NSF projects.
Scientific experiments are, by their nature, high-risk ventures that challenge the state of the art, if you will, in a number of technologies. As a result, these projects require rigorous cost and schedule control systems so that management can identify problems early and minimize the impact on the total project cost and success. Just as importantly, these projects require a management team that is extremely knowledgeable about the underlying science and has extensive experience in the management
of large-scale, complex scientific projects.
I hope that our two committees can continue to work together to ensure that NSF has the resources and personnel it needs to manage these large, taxpayer-supported projects.
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Chairman, the committee shares the gentleman's goal of providing NSF with sufficient resources to adequately manage and safeguard the taxpayer's investment. As he noted, NSF is increasingly involved in the construction of these large complex scientific experiments and facilities. It is also increasingly reliant on detailees and other temporary employees to supplement their Federal workforce. A cadre of experienced Federal project management professionals would certainly improve
the institutional memory and accountability within NSF.
Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I look forward to continue working with the gentleman from New York (Chairman WALSH), and certainly the ranking member, to assure that we maintain the high standards for quality in research equipment and construction projects as has been very evident in the excellent past work of NSF in research.