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(Spokane, Wash) -- Senator Murray joined Spokane Mayor John Powers and city and banking officials in introducing the Welcome Home Program, which provides low-income residents with the skills and resources needed to help them own their own homes.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Thank you, Bill. [Bill Zeck, Spokane Housing Authority]

June is "National Homeownership Month." I can think of no better way to kick it off than by being here today with all of you as we celebrate a great new opportunity for Spokane. A lot of communities talk about the value of partnerships and for good reason. Partnerships are critical tools that help us achieve our goals, whether it's at the national level or in our local neighborhoods.

Washington state is facing critical challenges: expanding our economy, creating new jobs, building a world-class education system, improving health care access, and making sure that every citizen has access to affordable, safe, quality housing.

On all these issues, non-profit organizations, the business community, private citizens, and local, state and federal agencies need to work together to create the quality of life we all want in Washington state.

Today, I am pleased to be in Spokane to celebrate the "Welcome Home" initiative.

Welcome Home is a perfect example of how the Spokane community is not just talking about partnerships, it's actively building them.

And I can't imagine a better cause than giving low-income people the chance to own a home and build their own American dream, by clearing away the obstacles to homeownership.

That dream is becoming more and more difficult to reach. Everywhere I travel in our state, I hear from individuals and families who simply cannot find affordable housing.

Many times, it's a family struggling to make ends meet on one or more low-paying jobs.

Other times, it's a disabled veteran looking for a home that is accessible to his needs, or a new immigrant to our country who came to live the American dream.

In all these cases, it can be a challenge to find affordable rental housing.

In fact, 44 percent of renters in Washington state pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for rent.

For these individuals and families, homeownership is simply out of reach.

But today, with the kick-off of the Welcome Home initiative, the impossible will become reality for 60 families.

That is a huge achievement, and I want to congratulate this community and all of its partners for making it happen.

A moment ago, I talked about the importance of partnerships.

Welcome Home is the product of extraordinary cooperation and collaboration.

I want to applaud: Mayor Powers – who has been such a tremendous leader in this community, the Spokane Housing Authority, Sterling Savings Bank, the developer - Monogram Homes, the property owner - Mike Shuler, the Spokane Homeownership Resource Center, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and all the organizations, businesses and individuals who proved that we can solve complex problems when we work together.

And we're going to see some immediate results from this innovative partnership.

Today, we're at the home of James and Kimberly Taylor.

The Welcome Home initiative will help 60 families like the Taylor's to buy a home, settle into a great neighborhood like this one, and make this community their own.

Welcome Home is not just good news for Spokane, it's good news for the Pacific Northwest and the country.

Initiatives like Welcome Home can be replicated in other communities, like Spokane, that have strong housing authorities and strong leadership.

To the people of Spokane, and most importantly -- to the Taylors and the other families who are joining the neighborhood, I want to say congratulations and Welcome Home!