Office of Urban Affairs Blog

  • Urban Update: Neighborhood Revitalization

    Ed Note: This is part of a series of blogs that detail the work of developing a national urban policy agenda.

    In July 2007, then-Candidate Obama said “if poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence; failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.”

    For too long, structural inequalities compacted by federal, state, and local policies have isolated fragile neighborhoods from sources of capital and economic growth, leading to long-term, localized recessions that pre-date the current economic downturn.

    In these neighborhoods, high unemployment rates, rampant crime, health disparities, high prevalence of substance abuse and mental health disorders, struggling schools and other ineffective institutions work in tandem to intensify the negative outcomes of growing up in poverty.  Conditions that would be challenging in isolation become overwhelming when interwoven throughout our most distressed neighborhoods.

    To solve these interconnected problems, neighborhoods need interconnected solutions. And given the national scale of the problem, and the significant resources the Federal government already directs to distressed communities – albeit too often in inconsistent and uncoordinated manners – Federal leadership in neighborhood revitalization is necessary.

    This is the charge of the Neighborhood Revitalization Working Group, led by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury. This group is integrating housing, education, justice and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity – neighborhoods that provide the opportunities, resources, and environment for children, youth, and adults to maximize their life outcomes.

    But that doesn’t mean we have all the answers. Our strategy reflects an awareness of the limits of Federal programs; indeed, the difficult process of solving interconnected problems in distressed neighborhoods has always happened at the local level, with dedicated, inventive leaders and practitioners adapting their tactics to changing conditions, rewriting rigorous community plans to target their efforts, and diligently managing those plans to achieve their vision. The Working Group is pursuing a new approach to Federal engagement with neighborhoods of concentrated poverty that is more interdisciplinary, coordinated, place-based, data- and results-driven, and flexible.

    This new approach is reflected in our effort to coordinate several key programs:

    (1) Choice Neighborhoods, a HUD program to transform distressed public and assisted housing into sustainable mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long-term;
    (2) Promise Neighborhoods, an ED program that creates a comprehensive continuum of academic programs and family and community supports, with great schools at the center, that will significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in the nation’s most distressed communities;
    (3) Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, a DOJ program with a community-based strategy that aims to control and prevent violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in designated high crime neighborhoods across the country;
    (4) Community Health Centers, an HHS program that has for more than four decades provided comprehensive high-quality preventive and primary health care to America’s most medically underserved communities.

    While federal programs alone cannot address the challenges faced in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, our hope is that the comprehensive integration of Neighborhood Revitalization programs at the Federal level will ultimately reflect the collaborative planning necessary at the local level.

    Failing to address economic distress at the neighborhood level not only limits our pool of human capital and diminishes regional and national economic capacity, it also compounds harms to low-income families in ways that exacerbate disparities in our society.  To tap the full potential of these neighborhoods and their residents, revitalization efforts must connect neighborhoods to surrounding communities, local institutions, and regional economies in ways that make both local and regional economic growth and prosperity sustainable and equitable over the long term. 

    Thomas Abt is Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at Justice
    Larkin Tackett is Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods at the Department of Education
    Luke Tate is Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • 7/30/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    The President Discusses Education, Challenging the Status Quo at National Urban League: President Obama discussed his education agenda and Race to the Top initiative this week at the National Urban League Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C. The President stated that education reform is a top priority for his Administration because the “status quo is morally inexcusable, it’s economically indefensible, and all of us are going to have to roll up our sleeves to change it.”

    In Detroit, President Obama Promises to Fight for American Workers: Friday, President Obama journeyed to Michigan to meet with workers and tour facilities of Chrysler and General Motors automobile plants. Speaking to workers at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant, the President had a message for critics of the auto industry bailout: “Don't bet against the American worker.  Don't bet against the American people.  We got more work to do.  It’s going to take some time to get back to where we need to be, but I have confidence in the American worker.” The President’s visit comes after the White House released a report earlier this week cataloguing signs of recovery for the auto industry. The report shows that in the year since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, employment in the auto industry has increased by 55,000 jobs, marking the fastest year-over-year growth in auto employment since 1999.

    President Obama Talks Small Business Support with Business Owners in New Jersey: The President met with small business owners in Edison, New Jersey to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses. Following the meeting, the President delivered remarks on cooperation between political parties and legislation that supports small businesses currently in front of Congress and the Senate. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation. They are going to lead this recovery. The folks standing beside me are going to lead this recovery,” he said.

    Administration Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Monday the White House and Administration Officials marked the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark law that broadly defends the rights of those with disabilities. As part of the celebration President Obama signed an Executive Order that will make the government a model employer for people with disabilities. Meanwhile the Department of Justice issued new rules that will increase accessibility for people with disabilities to businesses, recreational facilities, and websites. “Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will.  These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party.  They are common principles… These are the principles we cherish as citizens of the United States of America.”

    Administration Launches Home Affordability Campaign to Inform Homeowners: The Advertising Council, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, launched a campaign this week that encourages homeowners struggling with their monthly mortgage payments to learn about the Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program. The program aims to stabilize the housing market and help struggling homeowners get relief and avoid foreclosure by providing them with the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable. The new advertising campaign will direct homeowners to free resources made available by the Federal Government that helps them understand their options to avoid foreclosure. Over 1.5 million homeowners have already received assistance from the program.

    Deputy Transportation Secretary Speaks on Jobs, Recovery at Ohio State Fair: This week, U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari spoke on American job growth and the Recovery Act at the opening of the Ohio State Fair. Speaking just a few miles from the site where President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood broke ground on the Recovery Act's 10,000th road project, Porcari discussed Recovery investments in Ohio which add up to more than $1.1 billion for 470 road, bridge, transit and airport projects that will move people and goods across the state more safely and efficiently These and other Recovery Act investments have saved or created over 117,000 jobs in Ohio, a story true in other states across the country.

    Featured

    Urban Policy Director Speaks on Administration’s New Foundation: Speaking to the National Urban League this week, Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy, discussed how President Obama’s efforts to build a new economic foundation for all Americans will also shape what Black America will look like by 2025. “The President appreciated early on that to build a brighter future for America the foundation had to be strengthened.  No longer could we have a society where economic security, access to quality health care, a solid education, and the right to live the American Dream are limited to a chosen few.”

    ICMA Report: Adapting Smart Growth Strategies to Rural Communities: The International City/County Management Association recently released a report that examines the challenges facing rural communities and focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide new growth in rural areas. The report acknowledges the effects of declining rural populations and loss of working lands and proposes support for the rural landscape, existing built assets and investments, and the development of new, vibrant and sustainable area.

    Funding Opportunities

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Pre-Notice: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted the Choice Neighborhood FY 2010 Notice of Funding Availability Pre-Notice to give potential applicants guidance prior to the actual Choice Neighborhoods funding notice that will be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program. 

    Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23: The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

    Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23: The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have joined together to award up to $75 million in funding–$35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants–for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development.

    HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant, Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program is designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. The grant is part of the DOT, HUD, EPA partnership.

    EDA Innovation in Economic Development Competition, Deadline August 27: The Economic Development Administration announced funding for projects that advance innovation, boost competitiveness, and create jobs. Grants will be given to innovations in commercialization, regional innovation clusters, global export promotion, and green technology.

    Upcoming Events

    August 5th
    President Obama will visit a Ford auto manufacturing plant in Chicago, IL.

  • Remarks at the National Urban League

    Remarks by Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy, to the National Urban League on Thursday July 29, 2010 as prepared for delivery

    Good afternoon.

    First let me say what an honor it is to be invited to participate in the 100-year anniversary celebration of the National Urban League.  I want to thank Marc Morial for his exemplary leadership of this storied organization and to congratulate the Urban League on its century of extraordinary work.

    Inspired by the great African American migration to the north, since its founding this organization has played a leading role in developing the foundation for increased economic opportunity for families and communities in urban centers across the country.  And, its vision and leadership in this regard continues—as the National Urban League has been one of our most trusted allies and valuable partners in our effort to restore economic stability and growth in our Nation.

    The title of this session asks the question:  What is the future of African Americans in 2025?  This question of how to build a brighter future for African Americans – indeed, all Americans -- has been at the forefront of President Obama’s mind since the day he took office, and his answer to this question can be found in the New Foundation that the President has outlined for America.

    The President appreciated early on that to build a brighter future for America the foundation had to be strengthened.  No longer could we have a society where economic security, access to quality health care, a solid education, and the right to live the American Dream are limited to a chosen few.

    The President is addressing these challenges head-on by laying a New Foundation for America so that any one - regardless of color, socio-economic status, gender, or ethnic background - has an equal opportunity to succeed in this Nation.

    That’s why, through the Recovery Act, President Obama made a record investment to spur job creation, provide workforce training, extend opportunities to minority businesses and support business development for emerging industries.

    Through the landmark Affordable Care Act, the President fought to provide all families with affordable health care choices and better preventative care, to provide urban communities with greater access to health services through the Community Health Centers program, and to eliminate discrimination in obtaining health insurance.

    As the President spoke about earlier today, he has also aggressively pursued an education reform agenda – through innovative programs like Race to the Top and Promise Neighborhoods – to turn around underperforming schools and provide children in economically distressed communities with the wrap around services they need so that they have the full spectrum of quality educational experiences and opportunities from cradle to career.

    The President also created the first ever White House Office of Urban Affairs and charged it with creating an urban policy agenda that is comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and place-based in nature such that all children, regardless of where they are born, have the opportunity to grow up in an environment that is economically vibrant, environmentally sustainable, healthy and safe, and socially inclusive so that zip codes are no longer the predictor of a child’s life chances.

    Combined with efforts to ensure an individual’s civil rights and civil liberties, this New Foundation will contribute greatly to a higher quality of life for African American children, and indeed all children, in the year 2025.

    Because of my role as the urban policy lead in the White House, I want to take a final moment to delve a little deeper into what the Obama Administration is doing to improve the future of urban America – the core cities and metropolitan areas where the great work of the National Urban League is directed.

    The Administration’s urban policy focuses on working across federal agencies to be more strategic and comprehensive in supporting urban development.   Our belief is that by breaking down silos within the federal government and aligning federal programs, we will provide a more efficient and effective partner with local governments, non-profits, the private sector and other stakeholders on the ground in addressing the challenges that have plagued our urban communities for decades.

    We have a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative that is working to leverage existing federal funding to revitalize our most economically distressed, high poverty neighborhoods.  Thus, we are looking for ways to coordinate federal programs like HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program and ED’s Promise Neighborhoods with programs like HHS’s Community-based Health Centers and DOJ’s public safety investments.  This also includes our efforts to eliminate food deserts in urban areas – an issue that has been embraced by the First Lady as part of her mission to eliminate childhood obesity – because, in a nation as rich as ours, no community should lack access to fresh and healthy foods.

    We also have a Sustainable Communities Initiative, which is focused on infrastructure development that connects urban communities to key drivers in life – quality housing, efficient public transportation, green open spaces, high-performing schools and reliable jobs. This Initiative is looking to DOT, HUD and EPA to coordinate investments in cities and metropolitan areas so that communities provide greater access to opportunity and are more sustaining of the social interactions that keep all communities vibrant.

    Finally, our Regional Innovation Clusters Initiative is focused on spurring innovation, economic and business development, and job training in urban areas and connecting these economic assets to broader regional economic opportunities.  This means tailoring workforce training to needs of emerging industry, and creating more opportunity for small and minority owned businesses.  By 2025, we will find African American entrepreneurs participating in integrated regional economies with more of an emphasis on exports and industries that are just beginning today—green, clean, health IT, and more.

    Taken together, the New Foundation that President Obama is building is crucial to the future of African Americans and all Americans.  Indeed, the investments that have been (and will continue to be) made to strengthen our economy, reform health care, revitalize our education system, bolster our urban communities and protect civil rights will leave our country standing on stronger ground than ever.

    Thank you.

    -###-
     

  • 7/23/2010 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    President Obama Signs Landmark Wall Street Reform Into Law: This week, the President signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which provides stronger protections for consumers against unfair credit and mortgage practices and puts an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts. Learn more about the content of the bill here. Speaking at the bill signing ceremony, President Obama remarked that passing the historic bill was no easy task but that, ultimately, “this reform will help foster innovation, not hamper it.  It is designed to make sure that everybody follows the same set of rules, so that firms compete on price and quality, not on tricks and not on traps.”

    The President, Congress Authorize Unemployment Benefits Extension: After a delay in the Senate over the extension of unemployment insurance, which has resulted in 2.5 million jobless Americans exhausting their assistance since May, Congress passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits and assist those in need. Unemployment benefits help boost the economy, providing those still seeking work with money they can spend to support their families and area businesses. The bill is one of many meant to help the economy that has met partisan resistance in the Senate. Speaking on the passing of the unemployment insurance extension President Obama said, “Americans who are working day and night to get back on their feet and support their families in these tough economic times deserve more than obstruction and partisan game-playing that happens too often here in Washington.”

    The Vice President Surveys Recovery and Relief Efforts on Gulf Coast: Vice President Biden, this week, traveled to the Gulf Coast for a second time, stopping in Theodore, Alabama to assess efforts to counter the BP oil spill. During the visit, the Vice President toured the Theodore Staging Facility and met with fisherman and small business owners from the area. He also delivered remarks, stressing the Administration’s commitment to restoring the Gulf Coast. “We’re not going to stop until this area, all the entire Gulf, has recovered; until the economy of the Gulf is revitalized and literally a way of life is restored,” he said.

    Administration Discusses Role of Federal Leadership in Sustainable Building: At a White House Clean Energy Forum this week, Administration officials came together with 120 leaders in the commercial building community to identify innovative ways to improve energy efficiency, cut costs, reduce pollution, and create new business opportunities and jobs in commercial building. Currently, America’s 5 million commercial buildings account for nearly twenty percent of primary energy use in the US. The Federal Government’s 500,000 buildings alone ran up a $24.5 billion utility and fuel bill in 2008. In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order pledging the Federal Government to lead by example, setting sustainability goals for Federal agencies and committing them to make improvements in their environmental, energy, and economic performance.

    Administration’s Housing Scorecard Shows Increases in Affordability: The Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Treasury released the second edition of their housing scorecard this week. The Administration’s comprehensive report on the housing market, the scorecard shows that efforts to help homeowners refinance their homes and avoid foreclosure have helped millions of Americans. The scorecard also shows that home affordability in the U.S. is near its highest in 10 years, though fragility in the market and a large inventory of homes on and off the market remain.

    Department of Energy Announces $30 Million for Energy-Efficient Housing Strategies: The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week that it will fund fifteen research and deployment partnerships to help improve the energy efficiency of American homes. The partnerships will receive up to $30 million to deliver innovative energy efficiency strategies to the residential market and address barriers to bringing high-efficiency homes within reach for all Americans.

    VA, HUD Invest $15 Million in Homeless Prevention for Veterans: In an effort to prevent homelessness among veterans, primarily those returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs announced an investment of $15 million in five selected communities near military installations. The funding is intended to provide housing assistance and supportive services to veterans who might otherwise be living in homeless shelters or on the streets. “Nowhere is our obligation to our citizens, and to our Veterans who have defended our Nation, more important, more visible, or more necessary than in our commitment to prevent and end homelessness," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said.

    Featured

    LISC receives first-ever grants from Social Innovation Fund: Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping community development organizations transform distressed neighborhoods, was awarded $4.2 million from the Obama Administration’s Social Innovation Fund to support the expansion of their Financial Opportunity Centers. The Social Innovation Fund, an initiative enacted under the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, targets millions in public-private funds to expand effective solutions across three issue areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures and, youth development and school support.

    Huffington Post: Keeping the Promise of Promise Neighborhoods: PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell writes in the Huffington Post about the need to fully fund the Obama Administration’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative, which provides funding to communities to implement wraparound services to support children from birth to college. Blackwell explains that the President's request for $210 million to fund Promise Neighborhoods in FY 2011 was cut down to $60 million by a congressional subcommittee. “We must invest what's needed in order for this program to truly thrive—and for potentially millions of children to benefit from the lessons of the Harlem Children's Zone,” Blackwell writes.

    Funding Opportunities

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Pre-Notice: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted the Choice Neighborhood FY 2010 Notice of Funding Availability Pre-Notice to give potential applicants guidance prior to the actual Choice Neighborhoods funding notice that will be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program. 

    Local and Tribal Government Climate Showcase Communities Grant, Deadline July 26th: The Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of up to $10 million for the establishment and implementation of climate change initiatives. The grant supports improvements in the environmental, economic, public health, or social conditions of a community and is a product of the partnership between DOT, HUD, and the EPA that encourage smart growth practices.

    UPDATE: Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23: The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects. The TIGER II Discretionary Grant Program pre-application process will close at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 26, 2010.

    UPDATE: Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application July 26th): The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have joined together to award up to $75 million in funding–$35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants–for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development. The HUD Community Challenge Planning Grant Program pre-application process will close at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 26, 2010.

    HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant: Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program is designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. The grant is part of the DOT, HUD, EPA partnership.

    EDA Innovation in Economic Development Competition, Deadline August 27: The Economic Development Administration announced funding for projects that advance innovation, boost competitiveness, and create jobs. Grants will be given to innovations in commercialization, regional innovation clusters, global export promotion, and green technology.

    Upcoming Events

    July 28th
    Melody Barnes, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, will address the National College Advising Corps Wednesday in Washington, DC. The Corps seeks to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students entering and completing higher education by placing recent college graduates in low-income communities and schools to serve as college advisers.

    July 29th
    President Barack Obama will deliver a plenary address Thursday at the 2010 National Urban League Centennial Conference in Washington, DC.

  • 7/16/2010 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    The President Gives Update on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf: President Obama spoke Friday on news from the Gulf, where a new cap was fitted over the BP oil well earlier this week. In his remarks the President emphasized that while there may be good news, the work is not done containing the leak, and will not be until the relief wells are finished and functioning. “What we’re trying to do right now is to make sure that the technical folks on the ground are making the best possible decisions to shut this well down as quickly as possible, that we’re standing up the fund so that people are compensated quickly,” he said in his remarks.

    President Obama Helps Break Ground on Holland, MI Battery Plant: As part of the Administration’s continuing effort to highlight Recovery Act dollars at work, President Obama traveled to Holland, Michigan to help break ground on a new advanced battery plant. This is the ninth battery plant to start construction as a result of the $2.4 billion in Recovery Act advanced battery and electric vehicle awards the President announced last August. “This is a symbol of where Michigan is going, this is a symbol of where Holland is going, this is a symbol of where America is going,” the President remarked at the event.

    Vice President Biden Announces Report on Job and Economic Impact of the Recovery Act: The Vice President was joined by Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christine Romer to unveil the latest quarterly report on the economic impact of the Recovery Act.  The report finds that the Recovery Act is well on track to create 3.5 million jobs by year’s end, having already created between 2.5 to 3.6 million jobs. The report also finds that for every government dollar invested in Recovery Act programs designed to leverage outside capital, private companies and others are co-investing nearly three times as much.

    First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Gulf Coast: The First Lady visited Panama City Beach, Florida this week to meet with business and community leaders in the area and reaffirm that the Administration will not rest until the well is capped, the oil is cleaned up, the natural beauty of the region is restored, and the people of the Gulf Coast who have been affected by this tragic, ongoing spill are made whole. In her remarks, the First Lady emphasized that “one of the best ways that fellow Americans can help is to come on down here and spend some money.”

    National HIV/AIDS Strategy Aims to Reduce Infection, Improve Care: The Obama Administration, this week, announced its National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The strategy focuses on reducing the number of new infections, increasing access to and quality of care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. It reflects President Obama’s belief that we must re-focus public attention on ending the domestic HIV epidemic. Implementation of the strategy will be funded in part by $30 million of the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention Fund.

    Treasury Secretary Geithner Applauds Passage of  Historic Financial Reform Bill: Following the passage of landmark financial reform legislation this week, U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Timothy Geithner spoke in support of the bill and measures it contains to safeguard the American economy. Geithner praised the work of key Congressmen and Senators that helped make the bill, which will greatly increase consumer protection, a reality. “We are making significant progress in repairing the devastation caused by this crisis; in restoring economic growth; and in rebuilding confidence in the strength and stability of the American financial system,” Geithner said.

    Secretary Locke Announces National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship: U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the members of the new National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship this week at a Department of Commerce University Innovation Forum at the University of Michigan. The Advisory Council will help to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identify new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs, a critical part of President Obama's innovation strategy. Members of the council include serial entrepreneurs, university presidents, investors and non-profit leaders.

    Department of Health and Human Services Increases Support for HIV/AIDS Care: To support the newly released National HIV/AIDS Strategy and improve access to critical HIV/AIDS prescription drugs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week reallocated $25 million for AIDS drug assistance. The funds will help States reduce and prevent waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and are part of a broader effort to improve the health status of people living with HIV. Further support to HIV-positive patients will be provided by the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a new health coverage option created by the Affordable Care Act to help those with pre-existing conditions attain insurance.

    Featured

    If You Missed It, Sustainable Communities Live Chat: This week, leaders of the Sustainable Communities Partnership—a collaboration between the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency—sat down with Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs Derek Douglas to talk about the partnership’s work and answer questions from Planetizen readers and the online audience.

    DOT Does its Part to Keep Kids Moving: On his blog, Fast Lane, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood discusses DOT efforts to help end child obesity, the goal of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. Secretary LaHood writes on strategies that increase transportation options, encourage physical activity, and connect communities to better food sources, like new planning and funding opportunities developed by the Sustainable Communities Partnership and new funding for circulator bus systems that ease travel to and from grocery stores. “At DOT,” he writes, “we know transportation can be part of the solution, because the way people travel shapes our communities and affects our levels of physical activity.

    Funding Opportunities

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Pre-Notice: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted the Choice Neighborhood FY 2010 Notice of Funding Availability Pre-Notice to give potential applicants guidance prior to the actual Choice Neighborhoods funding notice that will be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program.

    Local and Tribal Government Climate Showcase Communities Grant, Deadline July 26th: The Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of up to $10 million for the establishment and implementation of climate change initiatives. The grant supports improvements in the environmental, economic, public health, or social conditions of a community and is a product of the partnership between DOT, HUD, and the EPA that encourage smart growth practices.

    Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application July 16th): The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

    Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application July 21st): The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have joined together to award up to $75 million in funding–$35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants–for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development.

    HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant, Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program is designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. The grant is part of the DOT, HUD, EPA partnership.

    EDA Innovation in Economic Development Competition, Deadline August 27: The Economic Development Administration announced funding for projects that advance innovation, boost competitiveness, and create jobs. Grants will be given to innovations in commercialization, regional innovation clusters, global export promotion, and green technology.

    Upcoming Events

    July 19th— Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy, will speak at the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities Monday in Washington, DC on the Obama Administration’s approach to place-based and urban policy.

    July 23rd— Alaina Beverly, Associate Director of the Office of Urban Affairs, and Bessy Kong, of the Domestic Policy Council, will speak Friday in Washington, DC at a Community Services Society Forum on how to strengthen urban communities.

  • Watch and Engage: A Conversation on Sustainable Communities

    Tomorrow, the White House Office of Urban Affairs will host a live chat with the leadership of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, an unprecedented agreement between HUD, Transportation, and EPA to coordinate Federal housing, transportation, and environmental investments. A part of President Obama's broader urban and metropolitan agenda, the partnership aims to break down traditional silos and craft federal programs and policies that take a more collaborative and holistic approach to better respond to the needs of communities.

    Last month, the Partnership released a joint notice of funding availability (NOFA) – $35 million in TIGER II Planning grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge grants – for local planning activities that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development. And, HUD also announced $100 million in funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program.

    We invite you to join us for a live discussion on Sustainable Communities – the progress they’ve made, the funding programs available, and what the future of the partnership looks like – at www.whitehouse.gov/live tomorrow, July 15th at 2:00pm EST or you can submit questions in advance to Planetizen.