Office of Urban Affairs Blog

  • 7/9/2010 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    President Obama Visits Electric Truck Manufacturer as “Recovery Summer” Continues: This week, as part of an Administration wide tour to see Recovery dollars at work, President Obama traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to visit Smith Electric Vehicles. The all-electric, zero emissions, commercial truck manufacturer’s new factory, built with a $32 million dollar grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is constructing trucks that will help companies cut fuel costs and emissions. Speaking to workers at the factory, the President said, “What you’re proving is that if we hold fast to that spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that’s always defined America, we’re not just going to emerge from this period of turmoil, we’re going to emerge stronger than we were before.”

    Recovery Act Helps 82,000 Families Lower Energy Costs: As summer temperatures rise to some of the highest on record, weatherization efforts funded by the Recovery Act are helping households keep their energy bills down and their comfort up. As part of Recovery Summer, trained experts are working to insulate, caulk, weather-strip, and install better windows, furnaces, and water heaters for 82,000 homes. The Recovery Act invested $11 billion to make homes and businesses more efficient, including $5 billion to weatherize hundreds of thousands of low-income homes across the country. More than 240,000 homes have been weatherized since February 2009.

    RestoreTheGulf.gov Launched to Increase Public Information on Spill and Restoration: A new federal website was launched this week to provide the American people with clear, accessible information and resources on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. RestoreTheGulf.gov combines news, data, and updates related to administration-wide efforts to stop the BP oil leak and mitigate its impact on the environment, the economy, and public health. The website is a one-stop information source that brings together information from across the administration and increases public access to the latest reports.

    Secretary Donovan Announces $190 Million in Aid to Homeless Assistance Programs: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide nearly $190 million in new grants to local homeless assistance programs across the country in a continuing effort to bring an end to homelessness across the Nation. The funding will help support 550 local projects that offer critical  housing and support services to nearly 20,000 homeless individuals and families. “This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s new strategy to end homelessness in all its forms,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We know that these programs are critical in moving people beyond a life on the streets and placing them on a path toward dignity and self sufficiency.”

    Department of Transportation Invests $293 Million Towards Livability, Economic Development: U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced nearly $300 million in investments that will improve transit and create jobs in dozens of communities nationwide. The grants are part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. $130 million of the funds will be allocated to six new streetcar and bus rapid transit projects as part of the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator Program. The remaining $163 million will fund 47 additional projects aimed at upgrading bus services and facilities from the FTA's Bus and Bus Livability Program.

    Secretary Solis Views Green Innovation at Work: This week, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis traveled to Denver, Colorado to view the work of the Denver Green Jobs Initiative, which provides free green jobs training to the unemployed, underemployed, veterans, women, and minorities. The program’s goal is simple: create a career path to high-growth green industries to help hundred from the local community gain access to new work opportunities. The Department of Labor invested over $3.6 million in the program as part of their Pathways out of Poverty Initiative.

    Featured

    A Year of Progress for Urban Policy: Alaina Beverly, Associate Director for the White House Office of Urban Affairs, writes on the work of the Office of Urban Affairs and the progress made thus far. The office, charged with coordinating the development of a national urban policy agenda, has led the charge to break down funding silos and integrate federal agencies’ work. “We have begun changing the way in which the federal government invests in places,” Beverly writes.

    Huffington Post: Reclaiming Open Spaces in Our Urban Landscape: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses the Obama Administration’s America's Great Outdoors Initiative and how his city is working with the federal government to reconnect citizens with their natural surroundings. “Together, we can leverage our energy, vision, and resources to create a new urban paradigm that celebrates our natural resources, improves our quality of life, and yields limitless potential for smart, sustainable growth.”

    Sustainable Communities: Leaders of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, a collaborative effort between DOT, HUD, and EPA, penned a piece this week that highlights their work to coordinate federal programs, protect public health and the environment, promote equitable development, and help address the challenges of climate change. The partnership is an example of agency collaboration focused on creating more comprehensive and collaborative federal policies. This piece is an introduction to the partnership’s work, which will be further discussed in a live chat Thursday, July 15th.

    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. 

    Livability Funding Opportunity from the Federal Transit Authority, Deadline July 12th: The Federal Transit Administration provides up to $25.7 million for alternatives analysis projects in support of the Department of Transportation's Livability Initiative. The program grants will fund alternatives analyses or technical work that would advance major transit investments that foster livability principles outlined by the DOT-HUD-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

    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 11th
    Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Advisor to the President on Domestic Policy, will be the keynote speaker at the Women in the NAACP Luncheon, part of the NAACP's 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, MO. The luncheon focuses on building a foundation for women and children through education.

    July 12th
    First Lady Michelle Obama will speak at the NAACP's 101st Annual Convention on Monday on steps to combat childhood obesity and her efforts to create a healthier generation of kids through the Let's Move! Campaign.

    Bessy Kong, Domestic Policy Council Urban Policy Office, will speak Monday at a workshop hosted by Building Changes, a nonprofit that uses public-private partnerships to find innovative solutions to end homelessness through grant-making, advocacy and expert advice.

    July 13th
    Derek Douglass, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, will participate in a panel on Health and Community Development at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Healthy Communities Conference on Tuesday.

    July 15th
    Thursday, leaders of the Sustainable Communities Partnership from the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency will discuss their work in a live chat. Watch online at www.whitehouse.gov/live. Submit questions here.

    WANT TO SUBSCRIBE? E-MAIL US AT URBANAFFAIRS@WHO.EOP.GOV
     

  • Urban Update: Sustainable Communities

    Ed Note: This is part of a series of blogs that detail the work of developing a national urban policy agenda. The White House will also host a live chat with the Sustainable Communities Parntership on July 15th at 2:00pm EST. Update: In case you missed it, you can watch the chat here.

    In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to form the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an unprecedented agreement to coordinate federal housing, transportation, and environmental investments; protect public health and the environment; promote equitable development; and help address the challenges of climate change.

    A part of President Obama's broader urban and metropolitan agenda, the partnership, guided by six livability principles, 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.

    In the past, federal policy inadvertently promoted uncoordinated, dispersed growth that left too many communities disconnected from regional assets and without the proper tools to realize their full potential. Today, many Americans are car-dependent, living far from their workplaces in residential subdivisions that don’t have quality public transportation and traditional amenities like corner markets, schools, parks, and medical facilities. These far-flung suburbs were initially developed to provide more affordable homes for working families, but instead many Americans are spending 60% of their income on housing and transportation, leaving them little else to save or invest.

    People are looking for other options.  Market research shows that there is a substantial unmet demand for communities with more housing and transportation choices. The two largest demographic cohorts – the retiring Baby Boomers and the Millennials just entering the workforce – are the most interested in these walkable, transit-accessible communities with a rich array of amenities.  These communities are more economically sustainable because they attract workers and families, providing the skilled employees that businesses seek and the customer base that neighborhood shops and services need to thrive, and they are more environmentally sustainable because they use water, energy, and other resources more efficiently.

    All the evidence suggests the demand is strong, yet poorly aligned housing, transportation and environmental programs have made it difficult for communities to develop these types of places. To build and support these sustainable communities, housing, transportation, environmental protection, economic development, and energy policies need to be developed in concert.  The conventional way of looking at these issues in isolation won’t work anymore.

    Earlier this year, to learn from the experiences of stakeholders dealing with federal urban policy at the local level, we held listening sessions in Denver, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Hartford, Washington D.C., and Cleveland. Over 700 people participated, including representatives of state, local, and regional governments; community development organizations; and a broad range of other stakeholders. HUD also hosted several webcasts which reached over 1,000 additional people.

    With public input and after a lot of hard work breaking down bureaucratic barriers, we made significant progress in three key areas:
     
    1. Provide and coordinate funding to support the creation of more sustainable communities:

    HUD and DOT released a joint notice of funding availability in June 2010. The joint grant program offers up to $75 million in funding – $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.

    HUD also announced $100 million in funding for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program, which will be awarded competitively to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental impact. In addition, applicants that meet a specified threshold score can also qualify for Preferred Sustainability Status that will give them access to a broad spectrum of benefits, including capacity building resources and secure potential points in a number of funding opportunities managed by other federal agencies, including DOT and EPA.

    HUD also adopted the LEED-ND system in evaluating proposals for its $3.25 billion discretionary funding grant programs; and EPA specifically cited the Partnership goals in a new guidance to states in how they should spend federal water and wastewater infrastructure funds, approximately $3.3 billion.

    2. Removing regulatory barriers at the federal level to facilitate the development of sustainable communities at the local level:

    President Obama signed an Executive Order to improve the sustainability of federal government facilities. The EO, signed last October, includes requirements for setting greenhouse gas reduction targets, encouraging community planning, and creating high-performance buildings.

    DOT issued a new bicycle/pedestrian policy that balances the needs of non-motorists in federally funded road projects, discourages transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians, and encourages investments that go beyond the minimum requirements to provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Additionally, the Federal Transit Administration published a proposed policy statement that would extend eligibility of federal transit funds for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

    HUD revised their policies to make it easier for FHA-insured multifamily housing to be developed on remediated brownfield sites, while ensuring the health and safety of future residents; HUD, DOT, and EPA are jointly reviewing applications for EPA’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Initiative and will collaborate on the work in the 20 communities that are selected; and DOT repealed the New Starts cost-effectiveness rule to give meaningful consideration to the full range of benefits that transit can provide.

    3. Aligning our agency priorities and institutionalizing the principles of the partnership within our agencies: 

    The three agencies have been working together in unprecedented ways this past year, jointly evaluating grant applications, developing Notices of Funding Availability, reviewing regulatory and policy changes, and aligning strategic plans and goals.

    We’re eager to share our work with you and get your feedback. Next Thursday, July 15th at 2:00 pm EST we will be hosting a live chat to talk about the progress we have made and answer your questions. The chat will be moderated by Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy at the White House. We invite you to ask questions live at WhiteHouse.gov/live, or you can submit questions in advance through our online partner at Planetizen.

    Shelley Poticha is Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD
    Beth Osborne is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy at the Department of Transportation
    John W. Frece is the Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities at EPA

  • Urban Update

    Ed Note: This is the first in a series of blogs that will detail the work of the White House Office of Urban Affairs in coordinating the development of a national urban policy agenda. For a summary, read our urban policy handout.

    In the past, the federal government has taken a fragmented approach to urban and metropolitan policy that failed to reflect the complexity and interconnected reality of places and the people that live there. This siloed approach limited the reach of federal programs and missed opportunities for true innovation.

    In February 2009, President Barack Obama created the White House Office of Urban Affairs with a broad mandate to provide leadership and coordinate the development of a national urban policy agenda.

    Since then, we have begun changing the way in which the federal government invests in places. These efforts are guided by three overarching goals: to foster urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable, and socially inclusive.

    From the beginning, the Administration and the Office of Urban Affairs has made public engagement a priority. We know that Washington doesn’t have all the answers, so we hit the road, meeting with urban experts, non-profits, mayors, county officials, foundations, and other stakeholders from across the country to get their input and see for ourselves what works and what doesn’t.

    In all, the Office of Urban Affairs visited eight cities and towns across the country, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Flagstaff, Arizona, visiting local leaders and holding policy discussions with practitioners. We saw innovation at work and brought those ideas back to Washington.

    While on the road, we heard many of the same stories of difficulty navigating and implementing the myriad of available programs. Though the federal government invests billions of dollars through programs to help urban and rural communities, the funding communities receive is too often fragmented and limited in impact. Communities need programs that are flexible and that foster innovation, rather than being overly prescriptive. Programs need to be integrated and comprehensive. Federal programs should incentivize local actors to collaborate so that municipalities think strategically as a region. Perhaps most importantly, federal programs should be outcome-oriented, not just process oriented.

    This input has helped us change the way we think about and create policy. To create better, more integrated and efficient programs we brought together 17 federal agencies in an urban policy working group. This convening provides a platform for information sharing and general coordination of programs. It is also responsible for conducting the annual place-based policy review that asks each federal agency to analyze the impact of their programs on how urban and rural areas develop.

    Additionally, our urban policy sub-working groups focus strategically on specific initiatives that support our overarching goals. The Regional Innovation Clusters group works to build upon the economic assets and competitive strengths of a region to boost job creation and economic growth. The Sustainable Communities group links transportation and housing with environmental impact to promote sustainable development and expand economic opportunity. And the Neighborhood Revitalization group addresses neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, crime, and unemployment with an eye toward reversing negative trends through comprehensive and targeted strategies.

    In the weeks ahead, representatives from these urban policy working groups will give an update on their work and how it will impact your community. Our hope is that this blog series will offer readers a picture of all of the exciting policies that have developed over the last year, and how they come together to form a vision of more economically competitive, sustainable and inclusive communities—the urban and metro realities that we all know are possible.

  • 7/2/2010 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    President Obama Speaks on the Importance of Immigration Reform: This week, the President delivered a speech on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. His remarks focused on the need for increased accountability and responsibility from the government, from businesses, and from individuals to repair our broken immigration system. The President called on the government to secure the borders, businesses to require workers to have proper documentation, and those here illegally to do right by the laws of this country. 

    The President Convenes Bipartisan Meeting on Energy and Climate: President Obama sat down with Senators from both parties to discuss the importance of new energy and climate legislation. In his remarks, the President emphasized the role of government in bringing about a full transition to clean energy and that incentives need to be put in place to catalyze change, lodging his support behind policies that would increase corporate responsibility for pollution.

    The Vice President’s Visit to the Gulf Coast: Vice President Joe Biden traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida this week to survey ongoing cleanup efforts to counter the BP oil spill. While there, the Vice President met with residents, local leaders, and members of the federal response team. The visit was part of the Administration’s ongoing response effort, which has focused both on environmental recovery and on providing economic assistance to those affected residents.

    Private Sector Employment Grows for Sixth Straight Month: June’s employment report, released Friday, showed continued evidence of economic recovery. Though total payroll employment fell by 125,000 jobs as temporary census assignments ended, growth in the private sector continued, adding 83,000 jobs this month. The unemployment rate fell to 9.5%.  Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer writes that the Administration continues to focus on accelerating job growth through targeted measures that increase aid to small businesses, state services, and the unemployed.

    Introducing HealthCare.gov: Helping You Understand Your Options: This week the Administration announced the launch of HeathCare.gov, a user-friendly website designed to inform consumers of their rights and benefits under the Affordable Care Act.  The site will also ease the task of shopping for health insurance by providing a single place to compare health plans available in your area. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “[t]hrough HealthCare.gov, individuals will have more control over their health care as informed and empowered consumers.”

    HUD Supports Thousands of HIV Positive Households At Risk of Homelessness: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $30.2 million in grants that will continue permanent housing programs for extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. The funding is part of HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids Program (HOPWA) and will help 1,232 households in 19 states. The funding supports the Administration’s federal strategic plan to end homelessness; 40 percent of the households receiving grants have been homeless in the past.

    Department of Commerce to Host Innovation Forums: The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration will host four innovation forums across the country this summer. The forums will engage university leaders and key economic development stakeholders in a discussion of the role of universities in innovation and how to take ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth. “Universities have long been a critical driver of innovation in the U.S.,” Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said. “We are committed to working with university leaders to increase the economic impact of our nation’s investment in research and development to help drive economic growth and job creation.”

    Featured

    Investing in Place Through Policy: Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy, writes on the Administration’s place based policy, which examines and adjusts how federal policy impact places and the people who live there. The policy puts emphasis on comprehensive interagency collaboration and increasing the impact of federal dollars. By concentrating resources, this approach asserts the primacy of place in moving our nation towards more robust social and economic outcomes.

    PolicyLink CEO on ”Our Broken Regions - Fixing the Hidden Cause of our Economic Downfall”: PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell writes in the Huffington Post on the flawed construction of our communities and the promise of the Sustainable Communities initiative to help regions lay out a smarter, more sustainable, and more inclusive future. The initiative, undertaken by HUD, DOT, and EPA, “tries to think about a community in all of the ways we really live our lives. We aren't just homeowners or renters. We're not just drivers or public transit users. We're not just consumers or sellers. We're all of those things - and our communities should reflect that,” 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, to be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program.

    Livability Funding Opportunity from the Federal Transit Authority, Deadline July 12th: The Federal Transit Administration announces the availability of up to $25.7 million for alternatives analysis projects in support of the Department of Transportation's Livability Initiative. The program grants will fund alternatives analyses or technical work that would advance major transit investments that foster the livability principles outlined by the DOT–HUD–EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

    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 HUD, DOT, 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 application 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 newly developed $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 EPA, DOT, HUD partnership.

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

    Upcoming Events

    July 7th— The Office of Urban Affair’s Rental Policy Working Group will host “Aligning Federal Rental Policy,” a summit to examine federal rental housing guidelines and standards, this Wednesday.

  • Place-Based Investments

    For the first time in decades, the Federal Government has been taking a comprehensive look at how its policies impact the way urban and rural areas develop and how well those places support the people who live there, in all aspects of their lives—education, health, housing, energy, and transportation. This “place-based” approach is a long overdue effort to help places work better for people.

    Last summer, President Obama directed the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Urban Affairs to conduct a comprehensive review of federal programs impacting places, the first of its kind in thirty years. The review represented an important first step toward leveraging federal investments in an integrated way, on a regional scale, and in a particular place to have the most transformative impact.

    An effective place-based policy requires comprehensive interagency collaboration and investment that can ensure an increased impact of federal dollars and a greater return on federal investments. By concentrating resources, this approach asserts the primacy of place in moving our nation towards more robust social and economic outcomes. A place-based policy is about finding the place-specific triggers not only to localized neighborhood and community growth but also to metropolitan and regional growth. Federal programs that meet urban and rural areas where they are and federal policies that respond to the ways that people live will meet the demands of communities that are striving for a better quality of life.

    A place-based program looks at a distressed neighborhood as a system. For example, instead of only focusing on underperforming schools, the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhood program recognizes the role an entire community plays in a child’s education. Promise neighborhoods create a continuum of service from pre-k to college to career by partnering with community-based organizations that provide a network of services that include workshops for parents with young children, in-school and after-school tutoring, mentoring, and community building programs just to name a few.

    And we are finding that placed-based policy approaches work. The review made clear that there are many existing opportunities to work across agencies –cutting redundant, dislocated programs and replacing them with innovative, regional policies designed to improve the economic health, environmental sustainability, and social opportunity of urban and rural communities. For example, the Sustainable Communities Partnership—a collaboration between the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development as well as the Environmental Protection Agency—is one example of interagency efforts to align planning and implementation dollars to achieve more affordable, economically vital, and sustainable places. At the same time, our interagency working group on Regional Innovation Clusters—spearheaded by the Departments of Commerce, Labor and Education as well as the Small Business Administration—is working to support economic cluster strategies by leveraging local assets to improve the economic well-being of neighborhoods and regions.

    This summer, we are building upon the progress made last year by initiating the second annual place-based review of agency programs as part of the preparation of the President’s FY 2012 Budget. Our goal is to continue to apply placed-based principles to existing policies, potential reforms, and new and promising innovations with a particular focus on strengthening economic growth and achieving greater cost effectiveness. Knowing that our national economic health is driven by regions, if we are to usher forward a new area of prosperity it must be based upon a sound policy foundation across agencies and respond to the characteristics, obstacles, and opportunities that shape the economic landscape of cities, towns, and regions across the country.

    Derek Douglas is Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy
     

  • 6/25/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    President Obama Looks to Bring Financial Reform Progress to G20 Summit: Following the announcement Friday morning that Congress reached an agreement on a set of Wall Street Reforms, President Obama congratulated the congressional leaders who have brought us one step closer to requiring greater accountability of Wall Street, and to providing greater economic security to Main Street. The President also noted the influence that such measures will have on the health of our global economy. “At the G20 summit this weekend, I’ll work with other nations not only to coordinate our financial reform efforts, but to promote global economic growth while ensuring that each nation can pursue a path that is sustainable for its own public finances.”

    President Obama Outlines A New Approach to Advancing Development: At the Muskoka G8 Summit, President Obama shared a new approach to advancing development. In his recently released National Security Strategy, the President recognized development as a moral, strategic, and economic imperative for the United States and our partners. He will issue a new policy development directive in the near future which will emphasize fostering the next generation of emerging markets, leveraging the power of research to scale up technologies, building sustainable public sector capacity to meet human needs, and seeking accountability from recipients of aid. 

    Obama Administration and Congress Receive Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness: This week, the White House and Congress received Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, a plan developed by the 19-member U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The plan builds on existing federal agency partnerships and evidence based strategies to improve the lives of the 634,000 Americans without shelter on a given night.

    Administration Works to Create Regional Innovation Clusters: Senior Counselor to the White House National Economic Council and the Small Business Administration Ginger Lew reflected on the Energy Innovation Conference she and other officials attended this week in Omaha. The conference was part of the Administration’s work to empower scientists, business leaders, investors, government leaders, and entrepreneurs to harness American ingenuity and create affordable clean energy and high-paying jobs. 

    New Housing Scorecard Shows Market Recovery Efforts Are Working: The U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week introduced a monthly housing scorecard that will indicate the progress of the Administration’s housing recovery efforts. "This scorecard will allow the American people to monitor the Administration's efforts to strengthen the housing market on a monthly basis and hold the government and industry accountable,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said. This month’s scorecard revealed that efforts to stabilize the market and increase affordability are showing signs of success.

    Department of Justice Announces $300,000 in Justice Assistance Grants: The U.S. Department of Justice awarded 16 local governments $300,000 in grants this week to prevent and control local crime and improve their criminal justice systems. The grants, part of the Justice Assistance program, can be used to fund drug and gang task forces, crime and domestic violence prevention programs, and other crime reduction initiatives.

    Commerce, SBA Approve More Than $16 Million in Grants for Gulf Region: This week, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke awarded eight grants totaling $10.27 million to the Gulf region. To date the Small Business Administration has approved 101 economic injury assistance loans, totaling more than $6 million for the region’s small businesses. The loans aim to protect existing businesses and create economic development planning and coastal management. Both initiatives are part of the administration-wide commitment to assist those affected by the BP Deep Horizon oil spill and will help the region address the unexpected challenges brought on by this environmental disaster.

    U.S. Department of Labor Awards $20 Million for Youth Employment and Training: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced last week the release of two national grants to help train at-risk youth. The awards were issued to YouthBuild USA and the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps and will support nationwide training opportunities for high school dropouts and young adult offenders between the ages of 18 and 24. Speaking on the grants, Secretary Solis said they “will improve the employment prospects of disadvantaged youth, young adult offenders, and high school dropouts living in high-poverty, high-crime communities who need our support.”

    June 27 is National HIV Testing Day: This Sunday is National HIV Testing Day, and President Obama urges the nation to use this day as an occasion to raise awareness of the steps each of us can take as individuals to fight HIV/AIDS. Knowing your status is a powerful step in the battle to prevent transmission of the disease.  “As we mark this day,” President Obama stated, “I would like to renew my call for all Americans to help reduce the risk of infection by getting tested for HIV and learning their HIV status.” In the coming days, the Administration will launch a comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy focused on reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.

    Featured

    Nan Roman Applauds Plan to End Homelessness, Government Collaboration: President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness Nan Roman wrote in the Huffington Post this week on the Interagency Council on Homelessness’s Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. Roman praised the plan’s call for an unprecedented level of collaboration among engaged agencies.

    Study Shows Foreclosure Crisis Has Shifted Development Back Towards Cities: In an examination of America’s foreclosure epidemic, William H. Lucy—a professor of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia—has concluded that the decades-old patterns of suburban growth and urban decline are now being reversed. Increasingly, Lucy found, people with choices and financial resources want to live in cities while real estate activity on the urban periphery has declined sharply.

    Urban Policy Director Commends DOT-HUD Collaboration: Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy, writes about the innovative, collaborative grant opportunities that are developing as a result of the Sustainable Communities Partnership between HUD, DOT, and the EPA. Douglas calls the grants “prime examples of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda that aims to break down traditional silos and ensure that federal programs and policies across all agencies better respond to the unique needs of specific communities.”

    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, to be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program. 

    Livability Funding Opportunity from the Federal Transit Authority, Deadline July 12th: The Federal Transit Administration announces the availability of up to $25.7 million for alternatives analysis projects in support of the Department of Transportation's Livability Initiative. The program grants will fund alternatives analyses or technical work that would advance major transit investments that foster the livability principles outlined by the DOT–HUD–EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

    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 HUD, DOT, 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 application for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

    New: 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.

    New: HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant, Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their newly developed $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 EPA, DOT, HUD partnership.

    Upcoming Events

    June 28th
    The Interagency Task Force on Small Business Federal Contracting Opportunities will host a Small Business Federal Contracting Forum at the U.S. Department of Commerce on Monday at 1 PM. Co-chaired by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Office of Management and Budget, the Task Force invites public and private sectors to offer their views on increasing small business participation in the Federal marketplace. 

    June 30th
    The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce are seeking nominations to the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise (NACMBE), which advises the Secretary of Commerce on key issues pertaining to the growth and competitiveness of the nation’s Minority Business Enterprises. The nomination period for the NACMBE closes June 30th at 5 PM EST.