[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 28, 1998]
[Pages 2092-2093]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 2092]]

The President's Radio Address
November 28, 1998

    Good morning. This Thanksgiving weekend we gather in our homes with 
family and friends to share holiday meals and memories and to give 
thanks to God for our many blessings. But Thanksgiving is not only a day 
to give thanks; it is also a time when we renew our commitment to our 
deepest values and to the duty we owe to one another. Today I want to 
talk about an important step we're taking to help our neediest citizens.
    This year Americans have much to be grateful for: grateful that our 
economy is the strongest in a generation, offering greater opportunity 
than ever before for every American; grateful that our communities are 
safer than they've been in 25 years, giving our families the security 
they need to thrive; grateful that our air and water are cleaner than 
they have been for decades, preserving the environment for our children; 
and grateful that America continues to shine as a beacon of peace, 
freedom, and democracy all around the world.
    We're also grateful this Thanksgiving more Americans will spend this 
holiday in homes of their own than at any time of our history. But for 
millions of struggling senior citizens and people with disabilities, the 
peace and security of a decent home is a distant dream and the threat of 
homelessness an ever-present nightmare.
    Too many of these hard-pressed Americans are warehoused in sterile 
nursing homes, not because they need to be but because they can't afford 
to live anywhere else. Too many are trapped in substandard housing, 
where broken plumbing, inadequate heat and hazardous hallways are a 
dangerous fact of life. And too many spend more than half of their very 
modest incomes on housing, often sacrificing basic needs like food and 
medical care just to pay the rent.
    On Thanksgiving Day in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, 
President Franklin Roosevelt entreated Americans to help the needy, 
recalling the steadfastness of those in every generation who fought to 
``hold clear the goal of mutual help in a time of prosperity as in a 
time of adversity.'' Today, at this moment of unparalleled prosperity, 
we must do no less.
    Americans should never have to choose between putting a meal on the 
table or putting a roof over their heads. That's why I'm pleased that 
this month we're awarding nearly $700 million in Housing and Urban 
Development grants to make sure no one has to make that impossible 
choice. These grants will enable hundreds of nonprofit organizations, 
like the YMCA, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army, to build more than 
8,000 new apartments for struggling senior citizens and people with 
disabilities and to subsidize their rents.
    Today I'm also pleased to announce nearly $130 million for new 
housing vouchers to help people with disabilities in over 200 
communities afford housing in the neighborhood of their choice. Together 
with our new housing grants, these steps will help nearly 30,000 
Americans. And I thank HUD Secretary Cuomo for his tireless efforts to 
ensure that our neediest citizens have access to safe, affordable 
    Let me give you just one example of the difference a home can make 
in the lives of Americans in need. Six years ago Helen Williams lost her 
husband to cancer and was losing her home. For 3 years she struggled to 
maintain her dignity and her health as she shuttled between friends' and 
families' houses, afraid to overstay her welcome but more frightened by 
the threat of homelessness. Fortunately, Mrs. Williams learned about one 
of the subsidized apartment buildings funded by HUD's housing program 
for the elderly.
    Today, along with her dog, Mr. B, she's thriving there and giving 
back to her community. Just this week, at the age of 80, she's been busy 
working with her church to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys to families in 
need. That's the kind of Thanksgiving story we need to hear more of, all 
of us bound together across the generations in a cycle of mutual help, 
caring for one another, giving back to one another, thanking God for our 
blessings. With the steps we take today, we'll ensure the same spirit of 
Thanksgiving is alive every day of the year.
    Hillary and I wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy time of 
thanksgiving. Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 4:10 p.m. on November 27 at Camp 
David, MD, for broadcast

[[Page 2093]]

at 10:06 a.m. on November 28. The transcript was made available by the 
Office of the Press Secretary on November 27 but was embargoed for 
release until the broadcast.