Office of Urban Affairs Blog
- Posted byon March 30, 2011 at 11:22 AM EST
Tuesday, I spoke to the National Urban League to celebrate their long running dedication to the idea that economic empowerment can elevate underserved urban communities. I also discussed how the President’s vision for how America can win the future means making sure all our neighborhoods, cities and regions – and the men, women and children who live in them -- are well-equipped for the 21st century. Economic growth needs to be inclusive and the opportunities for upward mobility should be widely shared. Through this Administration’s new place-based approach, we are making smart investments and encouraging smart planning as demonstrated by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities; we are helping create communities where people want to live and do business with efforts like the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative; and we are strategically investing in our future through place-based efforts like the Regional Innovation Clusters Initiative.
The President has said that strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, and strong regions are essential for a strong America. The investments that we’ve made to strengthen our economy, revitalize our communities, and strengthen our education system will leave our country – and all her citizens -- standing on stronger ground than ever before.
To read the full remarks, please click here.Melody Barnes is Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
- Posted byon March 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM EST
The President’s Budget recognizes that, to win the future, we must make a strong commitment to strategically invest in our Nation’s regions, cities, and neighborhoods – indeed, it is hard to imagine out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors and creating the jobs and industries of tomorrow without strong and economically vibrant cities and regions. At the same time, we recognize that the federal investments we make in pursuit of winning the future must be inclusive of all families and communities, so that the opportunities we create are widely shared.
- Posted byon February 1, 2011 at 5:00 PM EST
The White House’s Domestic Policy Council (DPC) established an interagency Rental Policy Working Group in early 2010 to respond to the need for better coordination of Federal rental policy. The White House hosted two gatherings in July 2010 to solicit suggestions for improved rental policy coordination from affordable rental housing developers and managers and from State and local officials. These stakeholders identified many issue areas where administrative changes could increase overall programmatic efficiency and reduce the burdens on the public. The objective was to seek better alignment of rental policy among three agencies that have significant affordable housing programs (Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture and Department of the Treasury) in order to reduce costs and paperwork obligations for property owners, developers, managers, and State and local governments. The meetings explored a broad range of issues and ideas. The notes from those meetings are available here.
The Rental Policy Working Group and alignment leaders assembled interagency teams to consider the recommendations provided by participants in the July gatherings. They tasked the teams to survey current policy and, in consultation with State and local agencies and stakeholder groups, to find opportunities for greater Federal alignment. The areas that were identified as in particular need of Federal coordination included physical inspections, operating budgets and financial reporting, and appraisals and market studies. The teams are also working on capital needs assessment, energy efficiency, compliance, subsidy layering, and tenant income definition.
Many of the issues raised at the July gatherings reflect the simple fact that much Federal funding to support affordable rental housing flows through programs administered separately by the three Federal Departments. Each Department receives funds based on its Department’s appropriations and each Department administers programs authorized by their respective legislative committees. This decentralized administration of rental housing policy has generally been good for the rental housing field, as different programs respond to different needs and draw on the different strengths of the agencies that administer them. It is also true; however, that separate programs and budget streams have created, over time, some inconsistencies and needless overlaps in administrative requirements. As developers and owners of affordable housing become more sophisticated, they increasingly rely on multi-layered finance and subsidy structures, which are supported by multiple Federal programs. These multiple sources of support bring with them overlapping certifications, reporting, and other duplications that can cause unnecessary complexity and cost. In keeping with the Administration’s efforts to identify and use less burdensome tools for achieving policy ends, the interagency Rental Policy Working Group will be seeking ways to align the various rental housing programs with each other and within their own Departments.
Derek Douglas is the Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy in the Domestic Policy Council.
- Posted byon December 29, 2010 at 1:19 PM EST
President Obama Signs Tax Relief and Unemployment Insurance Bill into Law: President Obama took action this Friday to secure vital tax relief and investments for American workers that will create jobs and accelerate economic growth. Surrounded by Democrats and Republicans, the President signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act into law. The bill ensures that 7 million Americans will not lose unemployment benefits and that working families will not face over $3,000 in new taxes. The package protects American workers with an extension of middle class tax cuts, a full year of emergency unemployment insurance benefits, and a $120 billion payroll tax cut. The package moves to spur growth by also extending the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit (CTC), and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
HHS Announces an Additional $670 Million to Help Keep the Heat On: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of more than $670 million to states to help low income families with their heating bills this winter. These funds represent additional grants to states under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP helps eligible families pay the costs of heating and insulating their homes in the winter, and cooling their homes in the summer. HHS is releasing this additional allocation of LIHEAP funds now to ensure that states have resources available to support their energy assistance programs as the weather turns colder.
Obama Administration Convenes Environmental Leaders at Historic White House Environmental Justice Forum Featuring Five Cabinet Secretaries: Five Cabinet secretaries and senior officials from a wide range of federal agencies and offices participated in the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice today, illustrating the Obama administration’s commitment to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards. Five Cabinet secretaries and senior officials from a wide range of federal agencies and offices participated in the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice today, illustrating the Obama administration’s commitment to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards.
Department of Energy Finalizes Loan Guarantee to Support World's Largest Wind Project: Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that a partial loan guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan has been finalized to support the world's largest wind farm. The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat project, an 845-megawatt wind generation facility located in eastern Oregon. Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power and renewable energy credits generated to Southern California Edison under 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements. The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5 billion.
HUD to Investigate Allegations that Mortgage Lenders Discriminate Against African American and Latino Loan Seekers: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that it is launching multiple investigations to determine if mortgage lenders illegally deny qualified African American and Latino borrowers’ access to credit. The investigations are in response to 22 complaints the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) filed with HUD alleging that the particular home lending practices deny FHA-insured loans to African Americans and Latinos with credit scores as high as 640. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD.
The States Step Up: Bruce Katz and Amy Liu of the Brookings Metropolitan Program discuss how states can deliver a new economy: In January, 37 state governors, many of them new, will take office facing daunting economic and budget challenges. Bruce Katz, Jennifer Bradley and Amy Liu say that these governors must look to the economic power of their metropolitan areas and the tools—like infrastructure banks and regional business plans—to maximize these areas.
NEW EDA’s Planning and Local Technical Assistance Programs - Deadline Rolling: EDA’s Planning and Local Technical Assistance Programs are two of the agency’s six assistance programs. Under the Planning Program, EDA provides assistance to eligible districts, cities, and states to create regional economic development plans in order to stimulate and guide the economic development efforts of a community or region. EDA’s Local Technical Assistance Program helps eligible recipients fill the knowledge and information gaps that may prevent leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors in economically distressed regions from making optimal decisions on local economic development issues.
Choice Neighborhood Planning and Implementation Grants - Deadline Dec 7th: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $65 million in competitive Choice Neighborhoods pilot grants for redevelopment of both public and other HUD-assisted housing properties. The program also widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that submit joint applications with a public entity to apply. HUD anticipates funding 12-15 Planning Grants with a maximum award of $250,000 each and approximately 2-4 implementation grants at a maximum of $31 million each.
Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program - Deadline Jan 14: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is offering $35 million to public housing authorities to develop facilities that will provide early childhood and adult education, and/or job training programs for public housing residents. The maximum grant award for the Capitol Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program (CFCF) is $5 million.
NEW SBA Community Advantage Initiative Opens 7(a) Loan Program To CDFIs - Deadline March 15: In an effort to expand access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities across the nation, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the creation of a new loan initiative named Community Advantage. This new program will increase the number of lower-dollar loans into these underserved communities by allowing Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and other mission-focused lenders, to originate SBA 7(a) loans up to $250,000.
- Posted byon December 3, 2010 at 8:44 PM EST
President Obama Urges an Extension of Unemployment Insurance: Speaking to a White House meeting for newly elected Governors this week, President Obama urged Congress to extend emergency Unemployment Insurance. Failure by Congress to act on extending unemployment benefits will have stark consequences for Americans this holiday season, according to a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The President cited the report’s findings that two million Americans in December alone – and nearly seven million over the course of the next year – will lose the temporary support that helps them keep food on the table and make ends meet while they search for a job if Congress fails to act.
The First Lady Lauds Passage of Childhood Nutrition Legislation: First Lady Michelle Obama joined children's and health advocates in applauding passage of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act”. The legislation expands eligibility for school meals programs, establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools and provides a 6-cent increase for each school lunch to help cafeterias serve healthier meals. The bill was a priority for first lady Michelle Obama and her Let's Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity.
HUD Launches New One-Stop Website for Economic and Housing Data: This week HUD launched a new website that displays an interactive map of the U.S. allowing visitors an intuitive way to seek data in a number of areas of geography – from an entire region down to a particular county. The website consolidates a wide variety of economic and housing market data from the Census Bureau, Labor Department, State and Local governments, housing industry sources, as well as HUD’s own field economists. The site features a variety of functions to analyze housing markets as well as a “Regional Narratives” tool providing broad overviews of economic and housing market trends within ten regions of the U.S.
HHS announces the nation’s new health promotion and disease prevention agenda: Secretary Sebelius unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s new 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action, and indeed, in just the last decade, preliminary analyses indicate that the country has either progressed toward or met 71 percent of its Healthy People targets. More than 8,000 comments were considered in drafting a comprehensive set of objectives ranging from blood disorders to sleep health.
HUD Secretary Donovan announces that Recovery Act Funding Has Prevented or Ended Homelessness for Over 750,000 Americans: Secretary Donovan announced today that homelessness for 750,000 Americans was prevented or ended, thanks to HUD’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP), funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program provided $1.5 billion to local communities to keep families in their homes or help them find other affordable housing after a sudden financial crisis, which might have otherwise led to homelessness.
Department of Energy Announces Technical Assistance Projects to Improve Energy Use in Commercial Buildings: During a live online chat at the White House earlier today, Secretary Steven Chu announced that 24 projects are receiving a total of $21 million in technical assistance to dramatically reduce the energy used in their commercial buildings. This initiative, supported with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will connect commercial building owners and operators with multidisciplinary teams including researchers at DOE's National Laboratories and private sector building experts. The teams will design, construct, measure, and test low-energy building plans, and will help accelerate the deployment of cost-effective energy-saving measures in commercial buildings across the United States.
Ashoka’s Changemakers: Sustainable Urban Housing Collaboration: Do you have an idea to make cities more sustainable and inclusive? The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of State have partnered with the American Planning Association and the Rockefeller foundation to launch a global competition for new ideas. The Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities competition is being launched in anticipation of the 2012 Summit of the Americas, and in support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA).
Submit your solutions, or nominate a project, in this competition to collaborate on sustainable urban housing for livable and inclusive cities.
DOL Competition for YouthBuild grants Deadline Dec. 3: The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced grants totaling $130 million for the YouthBuild program, an alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and construction skills training to at-risk individuals ages 16 to 24. Awards will be give to organizations that embody the YouthBuild model of balancing in school learning that leads to the achievement of a high school diploma or passing the General Education Development (GED) test, and construction skills training that prepares youth for career placement. YouthBuild grantees will tap the energies and talents of disadvantaged youth to increase the supply of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals and low-income families.
Choice Neighborhood Planning and Implementation Grants Deadline Dec 7th: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $65 million in competitive Choice Neighborhoods pilot grants for redevelopment of both public and other HUD-assisted housing properties. The program also widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that submit joint applications with a public entity to apply. HUD anticipates funding 12-15 Planning Grants with a maximum award of $250,000 each and approximately 2-4 implementation grants at a maximum of $31 million each.
Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program Deadline Jan 14: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is offering $35 million to public housing authorities to develop facilities that will provide early childhood and adult education, and/or job training programs for public housing residents. The maximum grant award for the Capitol Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program (CFCF) is $5 million.
- Posted byon November 12, 2010 at 8:11 PM EST
President Obama Pushes American Economic Competitiveness on Visit to India: As part of his trip through Asia, President Obama highlighted the relationship between America and India, the world’s two largest democracies, as one of the world’s fastest growing trade and investment relationships. As part of the National Export Initiative, President Obama noted that India is a key market for U.S. exports. More than $14.9 billion in future trade was announced in conjunction with the President’s trip, totaling $9.5 billion in U.S. export content and supporting an estimated 53,670 U.S. jobs. These cross-border collaborations, both public and private, underpin the expanding U.S.-India strategic partnership, contributing to economic growth and development in both countries.
Vice President Biden Announces Actions to Increase Energy Savings for Families: At a Middle Class Task Force event Vice President Biden announced a series of federal actions designed to lay the groundwork for a strong American home energy retrofit industry. These actions include a new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements and a new retrofit financing program called PowerSaver. “Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy,” said Vice President Biden.
Secretary Shinseki Commemorates Veterans Day, Renews Commitment to Veterans: While honoring Veterans at Arlington National Cemetary this Thursday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki noted the significant investments in Veterans benefits and services over the past 19 months: a 16 percent VA budget increase last year and a 10 percent increase in the 2011 budget request. He said this is making it possible to increase Veterans’ access to benefits, help end the disability claims backlog, and eliminate Veterans’ homelessness by 2015. Under Shinseki, VA is taking unprecedented steps to reach out to Veterans and their families with a television ad campaign, a new VA blog, and other social media initiatives, and outreach teams traveling throughout rural communities. The goal is to let Veterans and their families know what services they are eligible for and how to access them.
Department of Education Releases Finalized Education Technology Plan: Secretary Arne Duncan today released the Department of Education's National Education Technology Plan for transforming American education through technology, a process to create an engaging state-of-the-art, cradle-to-college school system nationwide. Improving technology is a crucial component of the Administration's effort to have America lead the world in college completion by 2020 and help close the achievement gap.
HHS and DOJ Team Up to Crack Down on Healthcare Fraud: Health and Human Services: (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and Attorney General Eric Holder visited Brooklyn, New York where they participated in the third regional health care fraud prevention summit. HHS introduced a new tool for medical students called A Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Abuse. The Affordable Care Act provided an additional $350 million for tools and resources to fight fraud over the next ten years. These investments in enforcement pay for themselves many times over. Since 2009, the Administration’s anti-fraud efforts put $2.51 billion back in the Medicare Trust Fund.
EPA Issues Guidance for State/Local Pollution Permitting:The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available guidance and tools to help state and local air permitting authorities identify cost-effective pollution reduction options for greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. In January 2011, industries that are large emitters of GHGs, and are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, will work with permitting authorities to identify and implement best practices to minimize their GHGs.
The Department of Labor Announces Awards for State Workforce Database: Secretary Solis announced $12.2 million to 13 states through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative. These funds will enable States to build or expand databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of employment and training programs to better inform workforce system customers. Over the three-year grant period, States will improve the analysis of education and training programs, but also provide user-friendly information to help people select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.
Community Health Centers New Access Points Program: Deadline Nov. 17: The Department of Health and Human Service’s Health Resources and Services Administration seeks applicants for up to $250 million in competitive 2-year grants to support development of New Access Points, new full-time service community health delivery sites that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care services to improve health of, and decrease health disparities of, medically underserved and vulnerable populations. Organizations eligible to compete for the 350 awards include public or private non-profit entities, including tribal, faith-based and community-based organizations.
HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Grants: Deadline Nov. 18: The Department of Housing and Urban Development made $1.68 million available through the CoC Homeless Assistance Programs, a set of three competitively-awarded programs created to address the problems of homelessness in a comprehensive manner with other federal agencies. CoC programs aim to reduce the incidence of homelessness in Continuum of Care communities by assisting homeless individuals and families move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Eligible services include transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and other services to help homeless persons transition from homelessness to living independently, programs providing rental assistance for homeless individuals with disabilities; and programs offering Section 8 rental assistance for moderate rehabilitation of buildings with single-room dwellings, designed for individual use.
Treasury Grants for Community Development Financial Institutions: Deadline Nov. 19: The Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) today announced grants providing up to $135 million in Financial and Technical Assistance awards. The awards will support Community Development Financial Institutions providing affordable financing and related services to low-income communities and populations that lack access to credit, capital and financial services.
HUD Hope VI Grants: Deadline Nov. 22: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for $124 million in grants to transform severely distressed public housing developments. Grant funds may be used for an array of activities, including: demolition of severely distressed public housing; acquisition of sites for off-site construction; capital costs of major rehabilitation, new construction and other physical improvements; and community and supportive service programs for residents, including those relocated as a result of revitalization efforts. It is anticipated that five to six grant awards will be made, with a maximum award of $22 million each.
Labor Competition for YouthBuild grants: Deadline Dec. 3: The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced grants totaling $130 million for the YouthBuild program, an alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and construction skills training to at-risk individuals ages 16 to 24. Awards will be give to organizations that embody the YouthBuild model of balancing in school learning that leads to the achievement of a high school diploma or passing the General Education Development (GED) test, and construction skills training that prepares youth for career placement. YouthBuild grantees will tap the energies and talents of disadvantaged youth to increase the supply of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals and low-income families.
Choice Neighborhood Planning and Implementation Grants: Deadline Dec 7th: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $65 million in competitive Choice Neighborhoods pilot grants for redevelopment of both public and other HUD-assisted housing properties. The program also widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that submit joint applications with a public entity to apply. HUD anticipates funding 12-15 Planning Grants with a maximum award of $250,000 each and approximately 2-4 implementation grants at a maximum of $31 million each.
Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program: Deadline Jan 14: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is offering $35 million to public housing authorities to develop facilities that will provide early childhood and adult education, and/or job training programs for public housing residents. The maximum grant award for the Capitol Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program (CFCF) is $5 million.
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