Remarks of Commission Co-Chair Nancy Hooks
July 30th 2001 Commission Field Hearing
Syracuse, New York
Good morning. I would like to welcome everyone to the Commission on Affordable Housing and Health Facility Needs for Seniors in the 21st Century's first field hearing. I am Nancy Hooks and I am one of the two co-chairs of this commission. I am from Albany, New York - so this is familiar territory to me and I am happy to be here. My fellow co-chair Ellen Feingold also joins me in welcoming you.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Fred Murphy and the Syracuse Housing Authority. Fred and his staff have spent a lot of time put a lot of effort into preparing this site for our hearing, and the commission is very grateful.
This is the first of several planned hearings across the nation, as this commission investigates the housing and health needs for the next generation of senior citizens. With the imminent retirement of the baby boomer generation, the challenge before us is to avoid a crisis, and to ensure that we address these issues sooner rather than later. In the process, we will strive to make improvements for the present generation as well.
We will look at the policies that have worked and those that have failed in providing housing and services to the elderly over time. But perhaps most importantly, we will consider alternative policies to effectively address the future. We will seek to develop new ideas and better approaches of ensuring that every American senior has access to quality, affordable housing and the supportive health services necessary to lead meaningful lives in their later years.
This bipartisan commission is the creation of a great friend to affordable housing for Americans and a friend of mine, Rick Lazio. Proactivity and creativity were his goals as he developed our mission. As we begin our work here today, we will endeavor to remain faithful to that vision and the essential work that we are conducting. When we are finished, it is my sincerest wish that our report to Congress will lead to legislation that expands access to affordable housing, reduces barriers to public-private partnerships, and increase both the availability and quality of health services to all seniors. This is a lofty goal, but Congress has assembled a fine team possessing extensive experience, in this commission to accomplish it.
Before we begin the formal testimony, we have a few special guests who will be addressing all of you and the Commission on this special occasion.
Our first guest is Monsignor Charles Fahey. Monsignor Fahey has been a national leader in the efforts to improve housing and services for the elderly. His extensive work on behalf of the elderly and disabled and his Leadership in New York, the United States, and throughout the World has been recognized by Governors and Presidents spanning five decades. Though born in Baltimore, he is a son of Syracuse and we are very proud to have him here today to open this hearing and help set this commission's work into motion. Monsignor Fahey-
Carl is the President and CEO of the New York Association of Homes and Services for Aging.
Many of you know our next guest as "Mayor Bernardi," as he served Syracuse with distinction for the past eight years as its mayor and prior to that served for five terms as the City Auditor. Roy Bernardi is the new Assistant Secretary for Planning and Community Development at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is giving New York an additional voice in the administration and brings decades of experience to Washington to help ensure that our cities and towns thrive in this new century. We are pleased to bring him back to Syracuse for what I am told is his first official visit in his new role. Please join me in welcoming Assistant Secretary Bernardi.
The balance of the hearing will be managed by the Chair of the Commission's Housing and Health Strategies Task Force, Jim Introne. Jim has been a leader in providing seniors with the housing and services they need to thrive and live comfortably. As President of Loretto, Jim oversees the provision of services across a continuum of care to approximately 3,000 older adults in Central New York. The Loretto System is a recognized leader because it puts the consumer first and works with other organizations to ensure that seniors are served with quality and dignity. We are both proud to serve with him on this commission and proud of his work. Jim Introne-