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Secretary Andrew Cuomo on 2000 Democratic Convention
(CNN) -- Andrew Cuomo is the 11th U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In 1997, he began what he calls a "historic" Management Reform Plan, which cracks down on waste, fraud and mismanagement at HUD. He came to HUD as Assistant Secretary in 1993, following a career helping the homeless (he created H.E.L.P. Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged in 1986).
Cuomo has a law degree from Albany University and served as campaign manager for his father, Mario M. Cuomo in 1982.
Chat Moderator: Welcome to the AllPolitics chat room, Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Chat Moderator: Please tell us a little about the Community 2020 seminar series.
Andrew Cuomo: One of the things we're trying to do with HUD is reinvent the way the federal government reaches out to people. The traditional method has been town hall meetings where, literally, people are supposed to go down to the local town hall to participate. That is a dated method of operation. Community 2020 says, "Why don't we basically have the chat rooms with local governments and their citizens and discuss governmental proposals and plans in chat rooms?" If the local town has a proposal to put in a new industrial park, let them talk about it on the Internet chat room.
Question from Dan: Mr. Cuomo, how do you rate the convention so far?
Andrew Cuomo: I think the Convention is making an excellent presentation because, frankly, they have the facts on their side. The Democratic record of accomplishment is very tough to beat. It's easy to argue a case when the facts are with you, and the facts are with the Clinton-Gore administration.
Question from Frank: Andrew, what do you think is the best way to improve housing in the 21st century?
Andrew Cuomo: I think the best way to improve housing is to get people fully employed to the point where they don't need any housing subsidies but can provide housing from their own income. That's the ideal. We probably won't reach the ideal in our realistic lifetimes and, therefore, subsidizing the rental cost of housing and building public housing wind up necessary realities.
What people may not notice or appreciate is that we have the greatest need for affordable housing in history. The economy is so strong that it is actually driving up the rents and making housing less affordable.
Question from Steve: Secretary Cuomo, one in every six American homeowners live in community associations. Would you support a policy whereby HUD would provide community associationsí documents to prospective purchasers (prior to close) of HUD-deeded properties?
Andrew Cuomo: That is a question that is above my pay grade. I would have to get a technical answer from HUD. I don't understand why we wouldn't hand over the documents, which is what the question implies. I'm sure before anyone goes to a closing, they would insist on seeing the community association financials.
Question from Dan: Mr. Cuomo, greetings from Los Angeles! What do you think distinguishes the Democratic housing policies from those of the Republicans?
Andrew Cuomo: The Democrats do more of it, in a nutshell. There's not much of a policy difference anymore -- it's more of a volume difference -- a difference of quality, rather than approach. We want more, and the Congress has provided less.
Chat Moderator: Prior to joining the Clinton administration, you founded two programs in New York that incorporated housing efforts, education and job training. How have you applied this concept to housing policy at HUD?
Andrew Cuomo: We actually have followed the same concepts. What I did before HUD was what we call comprehensive community development, housing and services all in one, in a total community context. And that's what we're now doing with public housing across the country -- building full neighborhoods, rather than isolated housing.
Chat Moderator: What role do you see for faith-based organizations in helping build a sense of community, especially in the public housing projects?
Andrew Cuomo: That's a good question. There's so much talk in this political season by the Republicans on faith-based institutions, as if it's a new idea. We've been doing it at HUD for the past four years. We work with churches and synagogues to do housing and economic development all across the country.
Question from Phantasm: Secretary Cuomo, do you believe those living in HUD housing should be required to pay token rent or perform community service for their rent?
Andrew Cuomo: The way the Section VIII public housing works is everybody pays one-third of their income for rent, and HUD subsidizes the difference. The one-third is the benchmark that any person should pay for housing.
Question from Or: Secretary, as a non-American I wonder, what do you think is the main issue of these elections? After all, the U.S. is in a very good economic status and itís the strongest country in the world, both militarily and politically.
Andrew Cuomo: The main issue is, do we keep this economy growing? The Democrats are the party better positioned to do that. The second issue is, assuming we keep the economy growing, what do we do with our newfound strength?
Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts for us?
Andrew Cuomo: The first question was what is Community 2020, and I said it's a chat room for government and citizens. Imagine this approach, what we're doing right now, with images of the local project, the local maps, the local facts and government talking to citizens on all levels on all matters through this medium. Then maybe we could re-engage citizens in a way that will make democracy truly work.
Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us, Secretary Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo: Thank you.
Secretary Andrew Cuomo joined us from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. CNN provided a typist for him. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Tuesday, August 15, 2000.
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