(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Senator Murray spoke by phone with 200 housing leaders who were gathered in Portland, Oregon for the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO).

Murray updated the group on the fight for housing in Washington, D.C. They presented Senator Murray with award naming her "Advocate of the Year."

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Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Thank you Chris [Chris Pegg, Longview Housing Authority] and thank you all for this great honor.

The truth is all of you are the advocates who deserve an award. You're on the frontlines - standing up for families in your communities, and I'm proud to be your partner in D.C. I wish I could be with you in Portland today, but I think you'll agree that I need to be here to fight for our priorities.

I'm so proud of your work. I've sat down with many of you. You've opened up your communities to me. You've shown me the progress you're making, and I am so grateful that in our region we have so many people dedicated to our families and communities.

Housing is a really silent epidemic. In our region we have areas of tremendous growth. Housing is often too expensive for many families. And our housing authorities have waiting lists of families who need help.

This year in Washington, D.C., our government has to make a choice: Either we're going to invest here at home and make our country strong, or we're going to leave families and communities behind. So far – it doesn’t look good.

The President offered a budget that cuts our investment in housing and community development. As you know, his budget proposal:

  • Cuts CDBG by more than a billion dollars
  • Eliminates HOPE VI
  • Cuts housing for the elderly by 26 percent
  • Cuts housing for the disabled by 50 percent
  • Fails to help with rising utility cots
  • And cuts the Public Housing Capital Fund.

To me – those are the wrong priorities. We can do better.

In the Senate, I worked to fix those priorities. As you know, I offered the amendment to save CDBG funding. In fact, right around that time many of you were in the Capitol for the national conference and it was great to have you making the case with your Members of Congress. Unfortunately, they still didn't get the message. So we've got to keep fighting.

I've been traveling throughout Washington state to help rally support for housing and community development. Last month, I held a rally in Seattle with local leaders. And 2 weeks ago in Bremerton, I held a tour and rally with community leaders to send the message that we need to invest here at home.

In the coming weeks, the full Senate Appropriations Committee will decide how much money each of the eleven Subcommittees will have to spend next year. As the top Democrat on the Subcommittee that funds HUD and the departments of Transportation and Treasury, I’ll be working hard to get as good an allocation as possible – but it’s too soon to say how that will turnout.

I'm also speaking out about the way HUD is treating all of you. I've heard some in this Administration claim that housing authorities are not performing. They've got it wrong. I know you're working harder than ever. The truth is that HUD and this Administration are not serving our housing authorities and the families who rely on them. So I've got a message for HUD too – stop criticizing the folks on the frontlines and start helping.

I can deliver that message with confidence because I've worked with you, I know your programs and I've seen what you're doing. I am so impressed by the partnerships you've created in the Pacific Northwest. If we're going to help families and communities – we've all got to work together – and you need a federal government that's a strong partner with all of you.

So it's a tight budget year and it won't be an easy fight – but you can bet I'm going to push to make sure we invest here at home – and I'm proud to be your advocate in that fight for a stronger America.