03.20.12

Remarks Of Senator Patrick Leahy At NeighborWorks Legislative Day

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery

It is great to see so many familiar faces here from Vermont.  Mert, Brenda, Connie and Elieen, thank you for being here to represent your organizations. 

NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing.  In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated $20 billion in reinvestment in these communities.  NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.

Supplementing these more traditional efforts, NeighborWorks America also offers timely and sorely needed help when disaster strikes and saddles communities with pressing housing needs. I am especially grateful for the generosity of NeighborWorks in providing grants to Vermont to help in our recovery after the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene.  When that storm hit our small state last August, some of the worst damage was inflicted on the houses, mobile homes and apartments where Vermonters have made their homes and built their lives.  Entire developments were washed away.  Where neighborhoods once stood, a swath of damage, destruction and heartbreak were left behind.

Vermonters are continuing to rebuild their communities.  NeighborWorks affiliates in Vermont have assisted in this process by providing housing-related counseling and affordable loans to those in need in the immediate aftermath of the storm, as well as making rental housing available, regardless of income, to those who were displaced and needed places to live.  Champlain Housing Trust, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, Central Vermont Community Land Trust, Gilman Housing Trust and Windham & Windsor Housing Trust – all of these fine organizations played crucial roles, and they continue to serve as essential partners in our state’s recovery. 

Beyond these efforts, year after year some of the most significant work being done to create jobs, to make sustained investments in affordable housing and to stabilize struggling communities is being done by organizations in this room.  As Congress once again begins the long and sometimes tumultuous process of deciding funding for the next fiscal year, the incredible efforts of NeighborWorks organizations continue to offer us so many examples for all of us in Congress showing why NeighborWorks not only is worthy of Congress’s support but, but it is a worthwhile investment at a time when difficult budget choices face us at every turn.  We support NeighborWorks because we know that making an investment in NeighborWorks and in affordable housing means making investments in jobs, in our economic recovery, and in the health and well-being of our communities.

NeighborWorks affiliates in Vermont and around the country continue to build new structures, rehabilitate old ones, manage properties, provide counseling and other critical community services -- all while generating jobs and strengthening the local economy.  That, again, is why so many of us have joined together to stand up to support your mission.  Thank you again, and I look forward to continuing to telling your story and championing what you do to help so many people, right where they live.  

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