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Remarks on Signing Into Law the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977

October 12, 1977

Good morning, everybody. I'm glad to be here on this occasion, which I think is a very happy one for our country.

There's been a great deal of work that's gone into the production of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977. One of the first recommendations that I made to Congress was to stimulate improvements in the housing field, which had come in a sad state, I think, in the last number of years.

During the campaign, I spent a couple of years moving around the country, trying to learn about our people's needs. And there are some devastated areas where American citizens live that are a disgrace to our great country.

There's no immediate solution that can be offered. I visited the South Bronx last week, which is enough to shake our confidence in the structure that we've evolved. And I know that in many other places in the country there are similar areas which need to be addressed by all of the leaders in this country in the private and public sector. We have made some progress in the last 9 months under Pat Harris' leadership.

We've already more than doubled the number of assisted houses being constructed. Now, as a matter of fact, about a fourth of the total multifamily houses in the Nation are assisted housing.

But this bill takes a giant step forward and gives me and the administration, the lending institutions, private developers, local and State officials, a framework within which we can make great improvements in the housing of our people. Because of the good work of the Members of the House and the Senators behind me, there's been a focusing of attention to the more devastated and needy communities of our country, in large and small cities and in rural areas.

The formulae that have been evolved will permit this to be done. There will be $12.4 billion over the next 3 years that will go into the community development block grant program, again concentrated in older and more distressed communities of our country.

In the urban development action grant, which is designed primarily to stimulate private investment, there will be $400 million a year. Rent subsidies will permit a substantial increase. 317,000 more families can be housed under the Section 8 program, again stimulating primarily private investment into renovation and building of adequate housing for our people.

The Congress has added a restraint on unwarranted redlining of depressed areas. Although this will require some additional effort in administration, I think it spells out the Congress attitude that this is not a proper way to deal with areas that are on the decline, that we need to work together to restimulate them.

In general, this is a very excellent piece of legislation. There's one portion of it that does cause me some concern and that's Title VII, which removes the constraints on the building of homes in flood plain areas.

We will be considering how we can salvage the flood damage insurance program and also restrict the building of homes in areas that are very likely to be flooded in the future. With this provision it's been estimated that we might have $4 1/2 billion of flood damage to homes that are built in areas where the rivers and streams are going to flood. And whether or not to come back with corrective legislation next year or whether to try to deal with this administratively is something we haven't decided.

But I would like to congratulate the distinguished Members of the House and Senate for the very fine work they've done with this legislation--it's a controversial piece of legislation--in devising the formulae to channel funds into areas that are most in need. But I think they have done a superb job. And with a great deal of appreciation to the Congress and, I think, congratulations to the people who seek better housing in the United States, I'm very glad to sign this House of Representatives bill 6655, which is the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:18 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 6655 is Public Law 95-128, approved October 12.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Signing Into Law the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242823

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