Press Releases

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that Northwest Housing Development in Sumner was awarded a grant of $1,271,600 through the Rural Development agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help low-income families build homes in rural areas.  

In a letter of support for their application earlier this year, Smith wrote: “Affordable housing for lower-income housing is a challenge to all levels of government and our society.  The mutual self-help program administered by Northwest Housing Development is a proven success for providing low-income families affordable ownership at a savings to the federal government.”

“In rural America, many still wait for the opportunity to own a home. Mutual Self-Help Housing has provided that opportunity for more than 25,000 rural low-income and very low-income people. This is a new approach to low-income housing, focused on building communities and empowering them by putting a roof over the heads of those who need shelter, building financial equity for individuals and families, and creating homes and communities that are bound together by their common effort,” Smith said, hearing of the award.  “Our nation’s fire departments are the first responders into almost every emergency situation and this grant program is one of the ways that we can help to ensure their continued safety as they face a variety of threats.  This was a very competitive grant process and I am very pleased that the USDA has recognized the value of Northwest Housing’s work in the community and has elected to support their mission.”

USDA Rural Development, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides qualified public and private nonprofit organizations with financing for effective programs of technical and supervisory assistance to help low-income families build homes in rural areas by the self-help method. This is the only means for many low-income households to obtain safe, sound and sanitary housing.

In the Mutual Self-Help Housing program, a group of 8-12 families and/or individuals work together under the guidance of a construction supervisor hired by a nonprofit housing developer (self-help grantee). These groups perform at least 65 percent of the construction work. By working together for 8 to 10 months, they complete all of their homes simultaneously; no one moves in until all the homes within the group are completed. 

Since its inception in 1971, the USDA Rural Housing Service Mutual Self-Help Housing Program has helped low- and very-low-income people to finance and build their homes. This program has developed an effective, dedicated nationwide network of families and individuals, nonprofit housing developers (grantees), technical assistance providers and USDA Rural Housing Service staffers. 

Those who participate in this program are unable to find a home they can afford, much less come up with a down payment. In the Mutual Self-Help Housing program, self-help groups build each other's homes. Their labor becomes their down payment, commonly referred to as “sweat equity.”  Hard work is the key, along with a willingness to work cooperatively with other participants. These groups share the common goal of home ownership and commit themselves to share in the work that will make that goal a reality.

Northwest Housing Development is a nonprofit housing organization in Sumner that organizes people who would otherwise not be able to afford a home into small groups of do-it-yourself builders who learn the basics of home building from professionals and then proceed to build their own neighborhoods.  They received $1,271,600 to provide technical assistance in recruitment, screening, loan packaging and related activities for prospective self-help housing applicants.  Under the terms of the grant, Northwest Housing will construct 57 homes in a 2-year period.

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) awarded 17-year-old Caroline White of Lakewood the Congressional Award Bronze Medal.

The Congressional Award provides a unique opportunity for young people to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development and citizenship.  All young people are equally able to earn the Congressional Award, because goals are set based on individual interest, need and ability.  A young person is not selected to receive the award; he or she earns it.

To earn her Congressional Award Bronze Medal, Caroline White set and achieved challenging goals in four areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. 

Caroline volunteered with the kindergarten class at Franklin Elementary School.  In the classroom, she assisted the teachers in their daily activities, learning that while teaching others, you often learn something about yourself.  Caroline also worked with the Civil Air Patrol cadets at McChord Air Force Base, teaching them discipline and the necessary attributes to being a successful cadet.   

Four days a week, Caroline taught children age 4-13 the basic skills of tae-kwan-do for her personal development requirement.  As an instructor she learned that she had to change her teaching style based on each student’s learning style.  Her supervisor noted that “her attention to detail and work ethic are unmatched by anyone else in her position.”  

In physical fitness, Caroline’s goal was to lower he mile running time to 6:10 and increase her pole vaulting height to 7’6”.  To achieve her goals, she attended track practice for two hours daily - repeatedly running distances and sprints and practicing her vaulting.

For her exploration/expedition, Caroline challenged herself with an overnight to Mount Rainier.  To prepare, she learned how to build a fire and how to properly pack a backpack.  After deciding on the appropriate gear, Caroline and her friends hiked for two days.  In the evening, she used her new fire-making skills to enable the group to eat dinner. 

After learning that she had earned the Bronze Medal, Caroline said, “I gained the chance to better myself as a person. I have learned how to feel like a part of my community and I will continue to do so in the future.”

“Congressional Award recipients like Caroline represent the best of America.  They are committed to bettering themselves and to giving back to their communities,” Congressman Adam Smith said.  “It is the making and fulfilling of that commitment that makes these young people so extraordinary.”

Currently there are five young people in Congressman Adam Smith’s district working on their Congressional Awards.

The Congressional Award is a public/private partnership.  The Award raises its own operating budget entirely through private-sector donations and receives no federal funding.  Congress established the Congressional Award in 1979 as a private-public partnership to recognize and reward initiative, achievement and service in young people.

At the end of last week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives provided for the extension of unemployment benefits.  However, the House extension is only for five weeks while the Senate version is 13 weeks.  With this discrepancy still unresolved, around December 28th, 45,400 unemployed workers in Washington state will have their benefits cut off.  The only way to extend unemployment past its current deadline is to have the House pass the Senate's package today before adjourning today until January. 

“While the extension that we were able to pass last week was certainly a step in the right direction, it is by no means a comprehensive victory for Washington state.  We need to make sure that Washington’s families will not just make it through the tough holiday season, but also have greater economic security until they can get themselves back on track in the new year,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma).  “We’ve got to get some help for our state to make it through the winter.”

Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and layoffs and budget cuts are being announced daily around the state.  Faced with the overwhelming impact of a failure to further extend unemployment, the entire Washington delegation united to send a letter to Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Speaker of the House, and Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Minority Leader, urging them to bring the Senate’s legislation to the floor of the House and pass it.  The text of the letter follows.

Dear Mr. Speaker and Leader Gephardt:

As Senators and Members of Congress from Washington state, we implore you to bring to the floor and pass the Senate’s legislation to continue the full Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation program for another three months, until March 29, 2003.  The House must not adjourn without passing legislation that would extend these critical benefits for thousands of American families.

Washington state has one of the highest levels of unemployment.   Our economy has become one of the hardest hit by the fallout of September 11th, and the lack of consumer confidence and demand.  Several counties we represent have double-digit unemployment rates, and new layoffs are announced daily. 

As you know, the Senate passed its 13-week extension unanimously.  While we applaud the House’s efforts to pass a five-week extension last week, we must take up and pass the Senate’s 13 week-extension legislation, in order to continue to provide benefits for 800,000 Americans who will lose their benefits on December 28, 2002 and for over 90,000 who will lose them during each week that follows. 

The 107th Congress must not end, with members heading home for the holidays, while thousands do not know if they will make it through winter.  American workers, their families, and the U.S. economy need your help. 

We respectfully request your assistance with securing and extending Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation by passing the Senate’s 13-week extension before we bring the 107th Congress to a close.

 

Early this morning the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) and Rep. Adam Smith’s (D-Wash.) Lakehaven Water Reclamation legislation which will improve the capacity and reliability of wastewater systems in south King County and parts of Pierce County.  The legislation is headed to the President’s desk for signature.

“The Lakehaven Water Reclamation legislation takes a critical step toward solving the wastewater infrastructure needs of south King County and parts of Pierce County,” Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said.  “This bill is about protecting our water supply and supporting a long term solution for waste water treatment.”

“The Lakehaven legislation is good for the environment and good for efficiency,” Smith, ranking member of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, said.  “Currently six million gallons of treated waste water are discharged into the Puget Sound.  After this bill becomes law, the Lakehaven district will be able to recapture that water and use some of it for irrigation and some will be returned to the aquifer, easing the demand on our groundwater.”

This legislation authorizes the construction of additional treatment systems at the Lakehaven Utility District’s wastewater treatment plants, distribution systems to transport water to the reuse areas, and systems to direct water back to the aquifer system.  The improvements will help maintain stream levels during droughts and recharge the aquifers without using additional surface water.  

Lakehaven Utility District is one of Washington state's largest water and sewer utilities providing 10.5 million gallons of water a day to over 100,000 residents.  It is located in south King County and encompasses the city of Federal Way and portions of Des Moines, Kent, Auburn, Pacific, Algona, Milton, unincorporated King County and unincorporated Pierce County.  The demand for water from these sources has increased to a point that the district may soon exceed safe water production limits. It has also resulted in the reduction of water levels in all local aquifers.

On Saturday November 9, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) received the Washington state Department of Veteran Affairs’ “Outstanding Male Non-Veteran” award for his service to veterans at a Veterans Day luncheon in Auburn.  Smith was nominated for the award for his commitment and dedication to veterans’ issues, specifically his work on the American Lake VA Medical Center, which provides care for more than 17,000 veterans.  The number of patients continues to grow because of the large density of military bases in the immediate area – Army, National Guard, Air Force and Navy – and Smith has worked hard to ensure both the quality and the availability of care for the veterans at the center.  The following is a statement from Smith on the award: 

“This award is a very great honor.  As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have worked to craft our nation’s policies regarding national defense as well as benefits for military retirees and veterans.  All of us owe the men and women who have served our country an enormous amount of gratitude and respect.  Many of these men and women have chosen to live here in the Puget Sound region, and I feel honored to represent so many of them in Congress.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our veterans and military retirees is health care.  I am committed to improving access to health care and expanding coverage for those who have served our nation.  Further, many retirees are eligible to receive health care at both VA and DOD facilities – I have worked to make sure retirees do not have to choose between these programs.

“We must also honor our veterans and military retirees by helping provide for their spouses, who have also sacrificed so much to our nation.  I strongly support the Survivor Benefits Plan.  Spouses are often hit hardest by a reduction in family income, and can scarcely afford to live on less. 

“I am also an ardent supporter of concurrent receipt, working hard to permit retired members of the armed forces with service-connected disabilities to be paid both military retired pay and veterans' disability compensation. By faithfully fulfilling the required length of service, our veterans earned the retired pay, for service performed in the past. These veterans have also suffered debilitating injuries in the line of duty, and as a result should be compensated. Disabled veterans, particularly those who spent their lives protecting our nation in military careers, have a right to expect responsiveness from their elected representatives. 

“Concurrent receipt is a critical issue not only for our military retirees and their dependents, but also for those who are considering a career in the military.  Above all, improving the treatment of personnel, retirees and veterans is not only the right thing to do, but is fundamental to our national security.  If we want to continue leading the world in military power, we must have the best personnel.  Denying benefits like concurrent receipt tells active duty personnel and those considering a career in the military that our nation fails to keep its promises to the men and women in uniform who make sacrifices everyday for our country.  We cannot permit this injustice to continue any longer.  Veterans have given so much to preserve the security and prosperity of this country, and in the midst of the war on terrorism, our debt of gratitude is more apparent than ever and we must take action.

“I remain committed to our veterans and will work diligently to provide them with the best benefits available.  Thank you again for honoring me with this award.”