Andrew Cuomo on Welfare & Poverty

Democratic Governor


Made fighting racial discrimination a key focus of HUD

In 1997, Cuomo was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under his leadership, HUD was transformed from a wasteful and inefficient bureaucracy to an effective driver of economic development and housing opportunities.

As secretary, Cuomo made fighting racial discrimination a key focus and brought 2,000 anti-discrimination cases all across the country. Andrew Cuomo's work earned HUD the prestigious "Innovations in American Government Award" from the Ford Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on three different occasions.

Source: NY.gov official website for Clinton Cabinet biographies , Dec 31, 2018

1984: Founded HELP: Housing Enterprises for Less Privileged

In 1984 Cuomo moved to New York City, where he became an assistant district attorney and a partner in the law firm of Blutrich, Falcone & Miller. During this time, he began to focus on the problems of the city's homeless population, and in 1986 he founded Housing Enterprises for the Less Privileged (HELP), an organization that provided transitional housing for people living on the streets. Cuomo's efforts for the homeless led to his appointment in 1991 to chair the New York City Commission on the Homeless. After Clinton's election as president in November 1992, Cuomo went to Washington, D.C., to help with the transition to the new administration and stayed to work on housing at the federal level. In May 1993 the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment to HUD as assistant secretary for Community Planning and Development, where Cuomo introduced new government policies to move the homeless into permanent housing with the help of transitional housing and expanded social services.
Source: Britannica Encyclopedia for Clinton Cabinet biographies , Dec 2, 2018

$20B more for increasing homeless services

Each jurisdiction requesting homeless assistance from the state will be asked to design a Continuum of Care strategic plan, which assesses the size and needs of each sub group within the homeless population and identifies what they need. I propose a record $20 billion over the next 5 years to be spent on homelessness. This proposal includes $10 billion for 100,000 permanent affordable units, $10 billion for 6,000 new beds over 5 years, 1,000 emergency shelter beds, and other homeless services.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to New York legislature , Jan 13, 2016

Establish office of Faith-Based community development

Proposals #27-34: Enact an economic mobility agenda to give every New Yorker a chance:
  1. Raise the minimum wage
  2. Combat hunger
  3. Invest in affordable housing and community development
  4. Expand Urban Youth Jobs Program
  5. Increase MWBE business opportunities
  6. Provide student loan relief to graduates with high debt
  7. Establish the Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services
    Source: State of the State address to 2015 New York Legislature , Jan 21, 2015

    Housing projects can hurt more than help despite good intent

    If you stripped away the noise and accusations, there was a real debate. Most people in Forest Hills were racially tolerant but afraid of the projects. It would have sounded something like this: I know we need to take care of our poor, but the projects are an example of good government gone bad. The government is trying to help by getting people out of the slums. Its intentions are good, but it's going to wind up building another ghetto. It'll just be warehousing the poor. The people the government is trying to help are actually going to be hurt, the project will be expensive, and when it fails, it will destroy the surrounding neighborhood.
    Source: All Things Possible, by Andrew Cuomo p. 26 , Oct 14, 2014

    Housing projects can hurt more than help despite good intent

    If you stripped away the noise and accusations, there was a real debate. Most people in Forest Hills were racially tolerant but afraid of the projects. It would have sounded something like this: I know we need to take care of our poor, but the projects are an example of good government gone bad. The government is trying to help by getting people out of the slums. The people the government is trying to help are actually going to be hurt, the project will be expensive, and when it fails, it will destroy the surrounding neighborhood.
    Source: All Things Possible, by Andrew M. Cuomo, p. 26 , Oct 14, 2014

    As HUD Secretary, addressed poverty and homelessness

    I became assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development--an appointment that scaled up my model for addressing homelessness to the national level. I traveled with the president as he led an effort, during a time of prosperity, to put poverty back on the front burner--to shine a light on "places left behind" in the new economy. I also set out to help save an agency Republicans had written off.
    Source: All Things Possible, by Andrew M. Cuomo, p. 7 , Oct 14, 2014

    CORe initiative: support community-based services

    Place matters. Where you live determines how you live, for better and for worse. In New York State distress is concentrated in a small number of neighborhoods.

    The Community, Opportunity, Reinvestment (CORe) initiative will better align state support with local need, while supporting successful community-based efforts, so that together we can make measurable and sustained progress in improving the outcomes in these communities.

    The CORe initiative will link up to ten State agencies across several issue areas, including health services, juvenile justice, labor, public safety, child welfare, substance abuse, and economic development. The CORe initiative will operate primarily at two interconnected levels:

    1. State COReStat: regular review of outcomes from a comprehensive inventory of existing programs
    2. Neighborhood COReStat: CORe is being piloted in two communities in 2012, and additional communities will be added in 2013.
    Source: NY Rising 2013 State of the State booklet , Jan 9, 2013

    Create a Foreclosure Relief Unit to keep people in homes

    Foreclosure Prevention Assistance: Creation of a Foreclosure Relief Unit The financial crisis has taken a terrible toll on our state's homeowners, forcing many out of their homes and putting many others at risk of foreclosure. Banks are unable or unwilling to renegotiate loans, and many of their foreclosure practices were questionable. Last year, I announced the new Department of Financial Services to provide meaningful oversight of our banks. The Department of Financial Services was a New York State innovation, combining financial regulation with consumer protection. This year, I'm proud to announce that DFS is fully functioning and will soon include a Foreclosure Relief Unit to provide counseling and mediation services to help New Yorkers stay in their homes. We need to resolve this crisis so we can move on.
    Source: 2012 New York State of the State Address , Jan 4, 2012

    Remove barriers to food stamps: stop fingerprinting for food

    No Child Should Go to Bed Hungry in New York: For all of our progress, there are still basic wrongs to right. There is never an excuse for letting any child in New York go to bed hungry. Statewide, 1 in 6 children live in homes without enough food on the table. Yet 30 percent of New Yorkers eligible for food stamps--over 1.4 million people--do not receive them, leaving over $1 billion in federal funds unclaimed every year. We must increase participation in the food stamp program, remove barriers to participation, and eliminate the stigma associated with this program. And we must stop fingerprinting for food. No child should go hungry in the great State of New York and we will do all that we can to prevent it.
    Source: 2012 New York State of the State Address , Jan 4, 2012

    Moral imperative to maintain safety net in difficult times

    New York was one of the first states in the nation to create a strong social safety net so that even our most vulnerable and needy did not fall through society's cracks.

    These are difficult times. Families are stretched beyond their limits. Many families, often for the first time, find that they may have to rely on the social safety net to survive and our most vulnerable members of society have become even more vulnerable. Fiscal constraints have required tough choices, and many states have made deep cuts to programs that serve the most vulnerable in society need the most. Today the safety net is showing strain, when it needs to be strong enough to support a population in need.

    Especially in times of crisis, we must continue to provide social safety net services, such as food and shelter to those in need. It is a moral imperative.

    Source: 2010 Gubernatorial campaign website, andrewcuomo.com , Nov 2, 2010

    2001 review: Focused HUD on poor working-class families

    What were those "new market initiatives" [that Cuomo championed at HUD]? Here's what Sen. Jon Corzine had to say about them in 2001:

    "HUD sought to restore its credibility by remaining singularly focused on improving services for the poor, low-income and working-class families, the disabled and senior citizens. It has transformed itself by launching new-market initiatives; integrating lower-income communities into the free market and creating renewal initiatives that spur private sector investment in both urban and rural communities. HUD has also helped America reach its highest homeownership rate ever--67.7%--and in the process helped African-American and Latino households attain record levels of homeownership."

    HUD's "new market initiatives" required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to significantly increase the number of loans purchased involving low-income borrowers: Borrowers who couldn't exactly afford the mortgages they were being offered. Borrowers who are now facing foreclosure in droves.

    Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.192-193 , Apr 13, 2010

    Founded nation's largest provider of housing for homeless

    ANDREW CUOMO is a New York native. An attorney, at 28 he founded Housing Enterprise for Less Privileged (HELP), which became the nation's largest private provider of transitional housing for the homeless. He practiced law as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and served as campaign manager for his father, Mario, Cuomo, in his successful 1982 race for governor of New York. At 39 Cuomo was named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration.
    Source: Crossroads, by Andrew Cuomo, p. 57 , Oct 14, 2003

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    Page last updated: Jul 05, 2021