Office of Urban Affairs Blog

  • A Giant Leap Toward Smarter Development and Better Government

    Yesterday, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the first ever Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program. The $100 million in funding 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.

    Earlier this week, HUD and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced another unprecedented achievement, the culmination of months of hard work and collaboration: a joint initiative that provides funding to build sustainable, livable communities.

    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. 

    These two efforts, as part of the Sustainable Communities Partnership between HUD, DOT, and the Environmental Protection Agency, are 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.  The Administration’s efforts aim to develop urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

    Historically, federal and state governments have invested in projects in an uncoordinated fashion, building new highways and roads without aligning those resources with the community’s long-term needs for new housing and economic vitality. This led to new private housing developments springing up near tax-payer funded infrastructure that radiated rapidly outward from city centers—a phenomenon commonly known as “sprawl.”

    Today, sprawl, congestion, and unsynchronized affordable housing and transportation policies have left too many communities disconnected from regional assets and without the proper tools to realize their full potential. It allowed federal agencies to singularly focus on their specific programs without an understanding of their programs’ affects on the integrated systems that make up a city and the people who reside there.

    We need smarter development and better government. That’s why President Obama instructed the White House Office of Urban Affairs to develop a national urban strategy and to coordinate the federal agencies.  Over the last year and a half, the White House of Urban Affairs and Domestic Policy Council have built a framework that will guide the Administration's efforts toward more comprehensive community and urban development.  We have promoted exciting interagency collaborations, like the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, and helped to translate those cross-agency investments into our FY2011 budget.  And we continue to work on new policy models to ensure the success of our cities and metropolitan areas.

    Realizing these goals can mean shorter commutes so that folks can spend more time with their families instead of behind the wheel. It means providing people with more transportation choices so that instead of driving your kid to school every day, they can take a safe bike route. It means connecting affordable housing with mass transit so that families don’t spend up to 60% of their budget on housing and transportation.

    So, in the grand scheme of things, this is a big deal; a giant leap toward the next generation of federal urban policy. But the federal government cannot do this alone. Our role is to provide the incentives to work smarter and resources that communities can leverage to plan and execute.

    Derek Douglas is Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy

  • On a Path to Ending Homelessness

    Download Video: mp4 (573MB) | mp3 (55MB)

    Ed Note: In case you missed it, check out Secretary Donovan’s post on HUD’s blog following yesterday’s release of the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

    Someone once told me -- in your head it's a dream, but on paper it's a plan.  As a nation, we’ve talked about addressing the issue of homelessness, and now we have a plan.  Over the last year, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), consisting of 19 federal agencies and chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, drafted the nation’s first comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

    The impetus for such a plan was simple.  In the United States, no one should spend a single night without a place to call home.  Yet, 634,000 people, including 107,000 veterans, experience homelessness on any given night.  The families and individuals that experience homelessness and the advocates that work so hard on this issue know that we need to act with a renewed sense of urgency.

    Yesterday, the lead Cabinet secretaries from USICH – Secretary Donovan, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki – joined USICH Director Barbara Poppe to unveil and submit Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness to the President and Congress. 

    The plan sets ambitious but measurable goals: (1) end chronic homelessness in five years; (2) prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years; (3) prevent and end homelessness for families, youth, and children within a decade; and (4) put us on a path to ending all types of homelessness.

    The plan builds on existing interagency partnerships and evidence-based models that are working at the local level.  It will focus the resources and efforts of federal agencies to offer a variety of comprehensive solutions.  For example, the partnership between HUD, HHS, and Education will provide homeless families with not only a home, but the wrap-around services they need to remain off the streets.

    This is doable but it requires all of us to work together - Congress, federal agencies, state and local officials, faith-based and community organizations, and business and philanthropic leaders across our country.

    We applaud the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness for their tireless efforts to put on paper what we know is possible.  Preventing and ending homelessness will positively impact the lives of individuals and families, veterans, children and youth, those who are chronically ill, those suffering from domestic violence, and those combating discrimination of all sorts.

    We look forward to working with dedicated state and local leaders to open doors and opportunities for men, women, and children all across the country.

    Melody Barnes is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council

  • 6/18/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    President Obama Pledges Continued Action in Gulf Coast: In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, President Obama outlined the Administration’s effort to curb the damage of the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, assist affected communities, and increase regulation to prevent a similar disaster in the future. The President also announced that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus – a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast – will take the lead on developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

    The President Applauds House Bill to Help Fund Small Businesses: The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would create essential tax breaks and increase access to credit for small businesses, legislation strongly supported by President Obama. One of the key initiatives to help America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs, President Obama heralded approval of the Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative as a “significant step toward getting small businesses the financing they need to start up, expand, and hire more workers.”

    Administration Kicks Off “Recovery Summer”: President Obama traveled to Columbus, Ohio Friday to participate in the groundbreaking of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project. Vice President Biden and Cabinet Secretaries will also take to the road in the coming weeks to celebrate “Recovery Summer”—a six-week long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs created by the Recovery Act.

    U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to Release Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness: Each night, 640,000 men, women, and children in the United States are without housing. In an effort to combat this fact, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Barbara Poppe announced this week the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The plan, titled Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, is a response to the 2009 HEARTH Act which mandated that USICH submit to Congress a "national strategic plan" to end homelessness. Opening Doors will be released June 22nd.

    HUD Report: Slight Drop in Homelessness from 2008 to 2009: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress revealed that the total number of homeless persons in America dropped slightly between 2008 and 2009 although the number of homeless families increased. The report showed that over the course of that year the number of individuals in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs dropped by nearly 58,000 people or 5 percent. Meanwhile, sheltered homeless persons in families increased by almost 19,000 people or 3.6 percent.

    U.S. Department of Energy Grants Funding to Expand Local Energy Efficiency Efforts: Twenty communities across the country have been selected to receive more than $60 million in funding to implement local energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that will reduce energy use by American homes, vehicles, and businesses and make strides toward our clean energy future.  The Recovery Act projects announced this week will continue to empower communities to address their clean energy priorities through projects such as energy efficiency retrofits, efficiency improvements to transportation systems, and installations of renewable energy systems to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

    DOT Efforts to Increase Bicycling and Walking Pay Off: U.S. Department of Transportation released new data this week that shows that both bicycling and walking trips have increased by 25 percent since 2001. The report comes after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a policy change to promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities that encourage transportation agencies to go beyond minimum standards and provide safe and convenient facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. “Americans want and need safe alternatives to driving. And by making biking and walking safer and more accessible, we’ll be able to provide Americans with more choices and help foster more active, livable communities,” Secretary LaHood commented.

    EDA Grants $1.5 Million to Expand JumpStart, Inc.: U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke this week announced a $1.5 million Economic Development Administration grant to JumpStart, Inc. The grant, which will promote innovation and small business development in the cities of Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gary, Ind.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Duluth, Minn., works to improve areas affected by the restructuring of the automotive industry. JumpStart will help develop regional entrepreneurship action plans and training and assistance programs for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.

    Featured

    Atlanta Housing Authority: CEO Renee Lewis Glover Reflects on 15 Years of Change: Over her time with the Atlanta Housing Authority, Renee Lewis Glover has overseen immeasurable change, including the dismantling of distressed and crime-ridden public housing projects and replacing it with better physical and social conditions for the families. Reflecting on her tenure, Glover writes that Atlanta’s new business and affordable housing models have led to improved community, improved prospects for youth, reductions in crime, and increased vitality in many neighborhoods.

    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.

    Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants, Deadline June 25th: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Promise Neighborhood program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas.  The $10 million available in fiscal 2010 will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods.  Planning grants will range between $400,000 and $500,000.

    New: Environmental Protection Agency &Sustainable Communities Partnership Greening America's Capitals, Deadline July 9: The Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), announced a funding opportunity to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies. This program will assist three to four communities per year, beginning in the fall of 2010.  EPA is soliciting letters of interest from mayors of state capitals.

    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. More here.

    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.

    Upcoming Events

    June 22nd — U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will host an event at the White House to introduce Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The event will take place Tuesday at 9 am and can be watched live at WhiteHouse.gov/live.

    June 22nd —Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will speak at the Brookings Institution Working Session on Urban Priorities and Investments, part of the IBM Smarter Cities initiative on Tuesday at 2 pm.

    June 23rd — Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett will speak at Atlantic Magazine’s Future of the City Forum on Wednesday at 1:30 pm.

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

  • Opening Doors

    I'm excited to announce that on Tuesday, June 22, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) will release the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness titled "Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness". The Council is an independent agency composed of 19 Cabinet Secretaries and agency heads that coordinates the federal response to homelessness. "Opening Doors" will serve as a roadmap for joint action by Council agencies to guide the development of programs and budget proposals towards a set of measurable targets.

    Each night, 640,000 men, women, and children in the United States are without housing. The HEARTH Act , signed into law by President Obama in May 2009, mandated that USICH produce a “national strategic plan” to end homelessness to Congress.  Beginning in January 2010, USICH held regional stakeholder meetings, organized federal working groups focused on specific populations, solicited public comment through an interactive website, and engaged experts from across the country to develop an action plan to solve homelessness for veterans, adults, families, youth, and children.

    We will be announcing the historic plan at the White House at 9:00 AM EDT with four Cabinet Secretaries: HUD Secretary and USICH Chair Shaun Donovan, Labor Secretary and USICH Vice Chair Hilda Solis, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. We welcome the country to join us during the announcement, by watching it live on WhiteHouse.gov/live. "Opening Doors" will be available at www.usich.gov and www.hud.gov.

    USICH is eager to share "Opening Doors" with communities across the country. After we release the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, the real challenge will be implementation. While by name it is a federal plan, the federal role is meant to be collaborative. USICH and its 19 member agencies looks forward to working together with Congress, mayors, legislatures, advocates, providers, nonprofits, faith-based and community organizations, and business and philanthropic leaders to achieve the vision of Opening Doors: “No one should experience homelessness -- no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home.”

    Barbara Poppe is Executive Director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness

  • 6/11/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    The President Speaks to Kalamazoo Central High School Class of 2010: President Obama delivered the commencement address to the graduating class at Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI, the winners of the 2010 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. In his speech, the President applauded the school and the Kalamazoo community for working to provide every student, regardless of background, with a quality education and taking responsibility when this mission was unfulfilled. “You came together.  You were honest with yourselves about where you were falling short.  And you resolved to do better,” he said.

    President Obama Highlights Small Business Initiatives to Move the Economy Forward: Following a meeting with small business owners and employees, the President spoke on steps his Administration is taking to help small businesses grow. He cited measures in the Recovery Act and new legislation being considered by Congress that would create tax breaks and increase access to credit as important efforts to boost the vitality of small businesses. “Small businesses will help lead this economic recovery.  And that’s why we will continue to stand by them.” 

    Admiral Thad Allen Presses BP to Improve Claims Process for Gulf Coast Communities: National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen met with BP claims officials this week to improve transparency within the claims process and ensure BP meets commitments to restore Gulf Coast communities. In addition Admiral Allen sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward emphasizing the importance of just and timely reimbursements for those impacted economically and directing Hayward to provide Allen and affected States with information for how BP will meet the needs of individuals and communities affected.

    Secretary Sebelius, First Lady Unveil Let’s Move Cities and Towns: This week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Let’s Move Cities and Towns, part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative that engages mayors and other municipal leaders in the campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity. At the 78th Annual Conference of Mayors, Secretary Sebelius introduced the effort, emphasizing the ability of communities to solve the challenge locally and encouraging those in attendance to sign up as a prospective Let’s Move City or Let’s Move Town.

    HUD to Provide Permanent Housing to 8,000 Homeless Veterans: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced last week that the Department’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program will provide public housing agencies with $58.6 million in funding specifically targeted to assist homeless veterans in their area. The funding is part of a $75 million national investment and the most recent joint effort between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to end homelessness among veterans. A second round of vouchers is expected to be handed out next month. 

    OMB Director Orszag Calls for Improved Efficiency Through Technology: Speaking at the Center for American Progress this week, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag addressed how the Obama Administration is using technology to streamline operations. “Ultimately, our goal is not to cut for cutting’s sake,” Orszag said, “but to modernize and reform government, to empower people with the information they require to make choices about what’s best for them, to make their voices heard by government officials, and to give the American people the data they need to bring about change.”

    Featured

    PolicyLink Report:  The President’s 2011 Budget: Creating Communities of Opportunity: The President’s 2011 Budget: Creating Communities of Opportunity is the first in a series of federal policy briefs that PolicyLink will issue in 2010 on how federal policy and programs can expand communities of opportunity in America.  Creating Communities of Opportunity, the inaugural report, aims to tell the story of new directions that the Administration is taking to foster inclusive communities and economies.  How well does the President’s budget proposal invest in equity? “Our answer: quite well,” writes PolicyLink Federal Policy Director Radhika Fox.

    Local Initiatives Support Corporation Annual Report: Building Sustainable Communities: Across the nation, LISC’s local offices have been hard at work investing in projects and programs that make Sustainable Communities a reality.  In 2009, LISC helped create 8,800 affordable homes and apartments, financed 24 schools for 8,400 students, and renovated 15 playing fields for 30,000 kids.  Their 2009 annual report underscores progress made through their Building Sustainable Communities strategy.

    Huffington Post Op-ed: “In Defense of PETRA”: Michael Kelly and Sunia Zaterman of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities penned an op-ed addressing HUD’s Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance (PETRA) proposal and noting that—given the persistence of federal underfunding and disinvestment in public housing—HUD’s creative and innovative ways to make up for chronic funding shortages have allowed them to save thousands of units and continue to serve their residents and neighborhoods. “Criticizing is easy. Finding a way to preserve and sustain affordable housing is not.”

    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.

    Commerce Announces New Innovation Competition - the i6 Challenge, Deadline June 15th: The Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new $12 million innovation competition - the i6 Challenge. The program, administered in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. EDA expects to award up to $1 million in each of its six regions, while NSF and NIH will award up to $6 million in additional funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees that are associated with winning teams.

    Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants, Deadline June 25th: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Promise Neighborhood program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas.  The $10 million available in fiscal 2010 will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods.  Planning grants will range between $400,000 and $500,000.

    New: 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.

    New: 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 (Pre-Application July 16th) 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.

    Upcoming Events

    June 16th
    Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will offer opening remarks at the City Parks Alliance Red Fields to Green Fields Presentation and Discussion on Wednesday at 8:30 AM in Washington, DC.

    June 18th
    Associate Director of Urban Affairs Alaina Beverly will speak at the National School-Based Health Care Convention Luncheon Plenary on Friday at 11 AM in Arlington, VA. 
     

  • 6/4/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

    Top News

    The President Visits Communities Impacted by the BP Gulf Spill: Today, President Obama returned to the Louisiana Gulf Coast to assess the latest efforts to counter the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. During his visit he met with residents of Grand Isle who have been affected directly by the economic consequences of the spill. Earlier in the week the Administration sent a preliminary bill for $69 million to BP and other responsible parties for response and recovery operations.

    President Obama on Building a New Foundation and Economic Progress in Pittsburgh: This week, President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he spoke on the state of the economy and the progress that has been made over the last 16 months. In his speech, the President emphasized the importance of forging a new economic foundation built upon reform and investments in education, infrastructure, and technology.  President Obama explained that it is critical for America to move beyond what he referred to as the “pre-crisis status quo.”  “America does not stand still” he said, “we move forward.”

    President Obama Emphasizes Administration’s Commitment to Job Creation, Growth: The President and Vice President toured K. Neal International, a commercial truck dealership and parts supplier in Hyattsville, Maryland. While there, President Obama offered remarks on the employment statistics released today, saying “we are again moving in the right direction. The economic policies we put in place are working.” Cabinet Secretaries and senior administration officials traveled across the country today to hold events highlighting the administration’s commitment to job creation and economic growth.

    The First Lady Announces Let’s Move Outside!: This week, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move Outside!, a component of her Let’s Move! initiative at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The program’s goal, she explained, “is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.” The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months.

    HUD Awards $113.6 Million in HOPE VI Program Grants: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced Tuesday that six public housing authorities will receive $113.6 million to transform distressed public housing developments in their cities into mixed-income communities. Housing authorities in Charlotte, NC, Covington, KY, Dallas, TX, Jersey City and Trenton, NJ, and Memphis, TN were each able to develop highly successful revitalization plans, including effectively incorporating early childhood education programs—a priority for the Obama Administration. “The HOPE VI Program has done an outstanding job over the years to improve housing conditions for countless low-income communities and this year, we took it a step further,” Donovan said.

    35 States and D.C. Seek Share of $3.4 Billion in Race to the Top Fund: The second phase of the Race to the Top competition drew applications from 35 states and the District of Columbia seeking to win a share of $3.4 billion provided by Congress to drive education reform. Education Secretary Arne Duncan commended all of the states that applied saying, "This took a lot of hard work and political courage. It required administrators, elected officials, union leaders, teachers, and advocates to work together and embrace a common reform agenda. Every state that applied now has a blueprint for raising educational quality across America."

    Christina Romer on May Employment Gains: Employment figures released today for the month of May show continued signs of labor market recovery. Payroll employment rose 431,000 over the month while the unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent. As expected, many created jobs were part of temporary hiring for the decennial Census. Total private employment increased by 41,000, somewhat lower than the rate of increase in previous months. Since December 2009, half a million private jobs have been created.

    Putting Our Public Health Data to Work: In an effort to ease the sharing of health data and improve health and the value of health care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week announced the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI), which uses cutting-edge information technologies to “put our public health data to work.” CHDI increases the amount of federally generated community health data available and the ease with which it is accessed.

    FTA Solicits Public Comment to Improve Evaluation of Major Public Transit Projects: The Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration seeks public comment on its evaluation process of major public transit project proposals seeking federal funding. “Major transit improvements are at the center of President Obama’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower oil consumption, and improve our quality of life,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “The Administration is developing criteria that will appropriately measure all of the benefits these projects bring to their communities. We need the public’s input to help get it done.”

    Featured

    Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink: An independent, foundation-supported resource, the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink offers tools, information, and strategies to assist any community interested in participating in the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program. The deadline to submit a federal application is June 25, 2010. The Promise Neighborhoods Institute provides technical support for planning, identifying quality approaches, building partnerships, assessing needs, and many more essentials for successfully responding to the federal Promise Neighborhoods application.

    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.

    Commerce Announces New Innovation Competition - the i6 Challenge, Deadline June 15th: The Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new $12 million innovation competition - the i6 Challenge. The program, administered in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. EDA expects to award up to $1 million in each of its six regions, while NSF and NIH will award up to $6 million in additional funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees that are associated with winning teams.

    Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants, Deadline June 25th: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Promise Neighborhood program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas.  The $10 million available in fiscal 2010 will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods.  Planning grants will range between $400,000 and $500,000.

    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.

    Upcoming Events

    June 7th
    President Obama will deliver the commencement address to the Kalamazoo Central High School Class of 2010, this year’s Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge winner.

    June 8th
    Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will offer remarks at Changing the Odds Beyond the Borders: Adapting the Harlem Children’s Zone Model in Hungary on Tuesday, June 8th at 9am.

    June 8th-9th
    The Minority Business Development Agency will host a 2010 Minority Business Development Summit beginning on June 8th at 7 am at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

    June 9th
    Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett will speak at the Washington DC Premiere of the film Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City, which will be screened on June 9th at 8:30 PM on the National Mall in Washington DC.

    June 11th
    Associate Director of Urban Affairs Alaina Beverly will deliver the keynote address at the Envision Prince George’s 3rd Annual Economic Outlook Forum on Friday, June 11th at 12:10 PM.