Office of Urban Affairs Blog

  • Community Development Voices Form A Chorus for Change

    This week, urban policy leaders arrived in the nation's capitol to launch the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development ("the Institute"), a venture of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC Executive Director Michael Rubinger, Julia Stasch of the MacArthur Foundation, Robert Weissbourd, Richard Baron, and other innovators in the field of community development lent their voices to a chorus of support for the Institute.  A clearinghouse for research, performance evaluation, and sharing of community development best practices, the Institute will inform and improve upon community development work across the country and policies coming out of Washington.

    Why an institute? In the words of Julia Stasch, "[it] responds to a need and it will lead."  By providing information that will enable practitioners and policy makers to better serve communities, the Institute will empower stakeholders to effectively respond to, and enhance, the way people live; to build healthy, sustainable and equitable cities for the 21st century.

    The timing for this collaborative effort could not be better. As the White House Office of Urban Affairs works alongside the Domestic Policy Council to create comprehensive federal programming that will support sustainable planning and integrated initiatives at the local and regional level, who better to learn from than the community drivers who have a proven track record of creating resilient, vibrant and inclusive communities?

    For federal policy makers, the Institute will provide evidence that will help to operationalize the philosophy that strong neighborhoods are central to strong regions.  In the words of Senior White House official Xavier de Souza Briggs, efforts likes these enable us to "take stock of what we have to offer and how we measure success."  For example, several launch attendees were excited by the prospect of having the Institute play a larger role in defining measures that will quantify the impact of planning grants and other federal programs, to understand if our work is moving the needle to improve the lives of residents and the quality of the neighborhoods in which they live.

    The Institute will also provide a platform, or a network, to strengthen the linkages between communities and help build lasting capacity to shift and adapt to new realities.  The recent economic downturn places a premium on these types of networks which can help make neighborhoods more resilient to economic shock and bring multiple resources to bear upon the visioning process for a more prosperous future. As a broker, the Institute has the potential to empower community practitioners to apply pressure for more systemic and structural reforms, locally and nationally, that will improve communities.

    The Institute provides a refreshing and critical community voice, a deep  bench of intellectual prowess, and practical on-the-ground experience to share with us here in Washington, and to paraphrase one former community organizer – I am fairly certain the ways of Washington will never be the same.

  • 4/16/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

    Top News

    A Bipartisan Meeting on Reforming Wall Street: On Wednesday the President welcomed leaders from Congress of both parties to the White House to discuss the economy, the Supreme Court, and the New START Treaty -- but he promised beforehand that the central focus would be Wall Street Reform.  The President stated, “I am actually confident that we can work out an effective bipartisan package that assures that we never have “too big to fail” again; that consumers are adequately protected when it comes to financial instruments -- whether it’s mortgages or credit cards or debit cards; that we have a strong mechanism to regulate derivatives, something that we have not had, a derivatives market that is in the shadow economy but is enormously powerful, enormously risky -- we want to get that into daylight so that regulators and ordinary Americans know what’s going on when it comes to this huge segment of the financial system.”

    President Obama's Earth Day Challenge: President Obama challenged Americans to take action in their homes, communities, schools, or businesses to improve the environment in honor of the upcoming 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2010.  In conjunction with the video message of President Obama, the White House unveiled WhiteHouse.gov/EarthDay as a resource guide for all those interested in learning how they can help make a difference in their community.

    Geithner Op-ed: ‘How to Prevent America’s Next Financial Crisis’: In a Washington Post op-ed this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the urgent need for strong financial reforms, noting that "the American people have suffered through too much to enact reform that does too little."

    Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Statement on New Health Care Quality, Disparity Reports: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement on health care quality and health care disparities faced by racial, ethnic or income groups. Two new reports -  the 2009 National Healthcare Disparities Report and the National Healthcare Quality Report - were released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  “Today’s reports demonstrate why passing health reform was so critical,” said Sebelius. “In 2009, healthcare associated infections increased and minorities were less likely to have insurance and less likely to get the treatments they needed. In a reformed system, more Americans will get the care they need, regardless of their race or ethnicity and the quality of care will improve. The numbers we saw today are troubling, but ultimately, reform will help turn these numbers around.”

    New CEA Report Finds Recovery Act Already Responsible for about 2.5 Million Jobs: A new report released this week by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) finds that the Recovery Act was responsible for 2.2 to 2.8 million jobs through the first quarter of 2010 – half of which are as a result of the over $200 billion in Recovery Act tax relief and financial assistance that has gone directly to mostly lower and middle-income families.  The report, which is the CEA’s third quarterly analysis on the economic impact of the Recovery Act, shows that Recovery Act tax relief and income supports have had an important impact on real disposable personal income in the last year and are contributing to the program being on-track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

    Obama Administration Seeks Public Input on Reform of the Housing Finance System: The Obama Administration seeks public comment on the future of the housing finance system, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the overall role of the federal government in housing policy. The questions are designed to generate input from a wide variety of constituents, including market participants, industry groups, academic experts, and consumer and community organizations.

    Featured

    Obama 'Gets' the Importance of Planning, Urban Affairs Official Tells American Planning Association in New Orleans: “America needs to plan its cities more sustainably and cooperatively, and recent federal funding to promote regional planning efforts is an important step toward that goal,” said Adolfo Carrion, Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs, speaking Tuesday afternoon at the American Planning Association's national conference in New Orleans.

    Obama Administration Officials, State and Local Leaders Collaborate on Coordinated Approach to Gulf Coast’s Future: New Orleans Mayor-Elect Landrieu hosted officials from the White House and a dozen federal agencies along with Senator Landrieu, Congressman Cao and other Louisiana officials. These leaders met Sunday and Monday in New Orleans for a series of working sessions focused on policy priorities for the city and the Obama Administration.

    Fixing America’s Schools: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be a featured guest on CNN’s "Fixing America’s Schools."CNN Newsroom anchor Don Lemon will interview Secretary Duncan in a dynamic town hall about reforming America’s schools. Sec. Duncan will answer questions straight from parents, teachers and students in Atlanta on the realities they face everyday ranging from school facilities and safety to standardized testing.  The show will air on Saturday, April 17 at 7 p.m. EDT and Sunday, April 18 at 6 p.m. EDT.

    Community Colleges: Our Work Has Just Begun: Dr. Jill Biden is featured in a current article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education where she highlights her work as a community college instructor, her passion for access for all to higher education, and the Obama Administration’s commitment to community colleges.

    Funding Opportunities 

    Drug Free Communities Support Mentoring Program Grants, Deadline April 23rd: An estimated 15 new mentoring grants will be awarded (up to $75,000 per grant, per year) to drug and alcohol prevention community coalitions from across the nation.

    U.S. Labor Department Announces Grant Competition to Serve Homeless Veterans, Deadline April 26th: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service has announced an $8.3 million grant competition to provide job training, counseling and placement services (including job readiness, and literacy and skills training) to expedite the reintegration of homeless veterans into the labor force through its Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.

    Community-Based Job Training Grants, Deadline April 29th: The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of approximately $125 million in funds for Community-Based Job Training Grants. Community-Based Job Training Grants will be awarded through a competitive process to support workforce training for high-growth/high-demand industries through the national system of community, technical and tribal colleges.

    Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, Deadline May 6th: This is the first pilot project of the Interagency Regional Innovation Clusters Taskforce (Taskforce). The Taskforce has been charged with developing a model for coordinated federal and regional efforts that foster and use regional innovation clusters to develop sustainable and efficient models for attaining national strategic objectives including creating good jobs, increasing regional gross domestic product and promoting innovation in science and technology.

    Department of Labor Announces Grants Serving Young Adult Offenders and High School Dropouts, Deadline May 10th: The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the availability of approximately $20 million for two grants to provide employment services to young adult offenders and high school dropouts ages 18 to 24 in high-poverty, high-crime communities.

    Investing in Innovation (i3) Program, Deadline May 11th: The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Program will support local districts and nonprofit organizations—working in partnership with several districts and/or several schools—as they seek to implement educational innovations with promising or demonstrated effective outcomes for students.

    New: 2010 Opportunity to Register and Other Important Information for Electronic Application Submission for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, Deadline May 15th: Organizations interested in applying for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program are asked to call the HUD NOFA Information Center as soon as possible to register and receive important application information. HUD's NOFA Information Center can be reached at 1-800-HUD-8929.

    Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program, Deadline June 1st: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot program through which 20 pilot projects will receive funding and direct assistance (through Agency contract support) to facilitate community involvement in area-wide planning approaches to brownfields assessment, cleanup, and subsequent reuse.

    New: CDFI Fund Announces 2010 New Markets Tax Credits Available for Investments to Help Low-Income Communities, Deadline June 2nd: The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the opening of the 2010 round of competition for tax credits under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program.  According to CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell, “these credits will help finance small businesses, grocery stores, healthcare centers, charter schools and job-training sites and will help create, save or support local jobs where they are needed most.”

    Upcoming Events

    April 19th
    WH Office of Urban Affairs Director Adolfo Carrion will deliver the keynote address at the International Economic Development Council dinner at 7pm in Alexandria, VA.

    April 20th
    Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President Valerie Jarrett will keynote and Director Carrion and Urban Policy Director Derek Douglas will be featured speakers in the launch of the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, a venture of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C.

    April 21th
    Director Carrion will deliver the opening keynote for the CEO’s for Cities Strategy Session:2010 at the SUNY Global Center in New York City.

    April 23rd
    Director Carrion will present the Graduate Planning Student Association Lecture in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning on April 23 at 1 p.m. in 146 Diefendorf Hall, UB South Campus.

    April 26th-27th
    Registration is open for The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, which will be held on April 26th-27th, 2010 at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, D.C.

  • 4/9/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

    Each week, please look out for the White House Office of Urban Affairs Newsletter, which provides information related to the Administration’s urban policy initiatives, funding opportunities, featured articles and upcoming events.

    Top News

    DOT, EPA Set Aggressive National Standards for Fuel Economy: Rules established this week by DOT and EPA could potentially save the average buyer of a 2016 model year car $3,000 over the life of the vehicle and, nationally, will conserve about 1.8 billion barrels of oil and reduce nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the lives of the vehicles covered. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “these historic new standards set ambitious, but achievable, fuel economy requirements for the automotive industry that will also encourage new and emerging technologies.”

    HUD Celebrates April as Fair Housing Month: Each year HUD and communities and organizations across the country recognize Fair Housing Month by hosting an array of activities that enhance the public’s awareness of their fair housing rights and highlight the national commitment to end housing discrimination. The theme for this year’s activities, “Fair Housing in 2010: Time to Act,” reflects the urgent need to ensure fair housing. “Discrimination based on how you look, the religion you practice, or because you have children or are disabled is illegal and unacceptable,” said John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD.

    SBA Offers Free Webinar Series to Help Small Business Owners Get Fiscally Fit: The U.S. Small Business Administration will host a Webinar series April 7th, 14th and 21st in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month. Participants will learn basic money management and financial skills for today’s business world.

    World Health Day: Bravo to the World Health Organization (WHO) for focusing global attention on the impact of urbanization on health.  On April 7th the WHO recognized World Health Day 2010 with the "1000 Cities - 1000 Lives" campaign, calling on cities around the world to hold events that open up streets for activities promoting health and wellness.

    Featured

    Center for American Progress on the Opportunities for Educational Reform in FY2011: In February, the President proposed a $3 billion increase in K-12 education programs in his budget even as his administration works to reduce the annual federal deficit. This was an obvious signal of the President’s domestic priorities, but the proposed budget was significant in other ways. Few federal appropriations cycles have held such opportunities for education reform. This article examines reform proposals in the Obama administration’s FY 2011 budget request, why they’re needed, and how they would improve our education system.

    Economic Development Administration Efforts to Help Flint Retool: In an article titled “Torn From the Front Page: Our friends in D.C. want Flint to succeed,” online news bloggers at mlive.com credit President Obama for his commitment to helping struggling towns like Flint, Michigan retool and rebuild through innovation and entrepreneurship.

    Stimulus Opportunities Seminar in Philadelphia Draws 900 Minority Businesses: Minority Business owners received a crash course on connecting to city, state and federal procurement opportunities and got the chance to network with 41 exhibitors, including prime contractors and city and state agencies at this year’s Philadelphia Economic Recovery Procurement Summit. The summit, co-sponsored by the Enterprise Center, city of Philadelphia and the Small Business Administration, is among ongoing efforts to connect MBEs to procurement opportunities.

    Funding Opportunities

    $1.2 Million in Recovery Act Funds to Assist Workers Impacted by Foreign Trade, Deadline April 14th: One to four projects will be funded to provide technical assistance and outreach to dislocated workers impacted by foreign trade. Funding awarded through this competition will support grantees that provide direct training or technical assistance to ensure that Trade Adjustment Assistance petitions are complete and accurate. It also will allow organizations to improve the delivery of Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response services to trade-affected workers.

    Drug Free Communities Support Mentoring Program Grants, Deadline April 23rd: An estimated 15 new mentoring grants will be awarded (up to $75,000 per grant, per year) to drug and alcohol prevention community coalitions from across the nation.

    U.S. Labor Department Announces Grant Competition to Serve Homeless Veterans, Deadline April 26th: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service has announced an $8.3 million grant competition to provide job training, counseling and placement services (including job readiness, and literacy and skills training) to expedite the reintegration of homeless veterans into the labor force through its Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.

    Community-Based Job Training Grants, Deadline April 29th: The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of approximately $125 million in funds for Community-Based Job Training Grants. Community-Based Job Training Grants will be awarded through a competitive process to support workforce training for high-growth/high-demand industries through the national system of community, technical and tribal colleges.

    Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative, Deadline May 6th: This is the first pilot project of the Interagency Regional Innovation Clusters Taskforce (Taskforce). The Taskforce has been charged with developing a model for coordinated federal and regional efforts that foster and use regional innovation clusters to develop sustainable and efficient models for attaining national strategic objectives including creating good jobs, increasing regional gross domestic product and promoting innovation in science and technology.

    Department of Labor Announces Grants Serving Young Adult Offenders and High School Dropouts, Deadline May 10th: The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the availability of approximately $20 million for two grants to provide employment services to young adult offenders and high school dropouts ages 18 to 24 in high-poverty, high-crime communities.

    Investing in Innovation (i3) Program, Deadline May 11th: The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Program will support local districts and nonprofit organizations—working in partnership with several districts and/or several schools—as they seek to implement educational innovations with promising or demonstrated effective outcomes for students.

    Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program, Deadline June 1st: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot program through which 20 pilot projects will receive funding and direct assistance (through Agency contract support) to facilitate community involvement in area-wide planning approaches to brownfields assessment, cleanup, and subsequent reuse.

    Upcoming Events

    April 12th
    WH Office of Urban Affairs Director Adolfo Carrion with join senior administration officials from SBA, MBDA, HUD and GSA at an Economic Recovery Opportunity Event in Atlanta. Mayor K Reed will deliver the keynote address. 

    April 13th
    Director Carrion will deliver the closing keynote address at the 2010 American Planning Conference, which will take place from April 10th-13th in New Orleans.

    Director Carrion will provide the opening keynote for a panel conversation about the state of New Orleans four-and-a-half years after Hurricane Katrina titled “Beyond Recovery: Talent, Capital and the Future of New Orleans”. The event is being hosted by Next American City.

    April 14th
    Director Carrion is giving a lecture at Harvard hosted by the Real-Estate Academic Initiative.

    April 16th
    Director Carrion will deliver the luncheon keynote at the Regional Plan Association’s 20th Annual Regional Assembly.

    April 26th-27th
    Registration is now open for The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, which will be held on April 26th-27th, 2010 at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, D.C. More Here.

  • World Health Day: Healthy Cities, Healthy People

    Bravo to the World Health Organization (WHO) for focusing global attention on the impact of urbanization on health. On April 7th the WHO recognized World Health Day 2010 with the "1000 Cities - 1000 Lives" campaign, calling on cities around the world to hold events that open up streets for activities promoting health and wellness.

    Smart investment in the built environment is the foundation of a healthy community. The location of your parks, supermarket, and schools (among other things) directly affect the health of an individual. And as people gravitate toward urban areas across the globe, we see increased demand on infrastructure, housing, and services. Global urbanization magnifies the responsibility of planners, governments and communities to develop more livable, walkable and active environments.

    Our Administration is working each day to bring federal agencies together to promote comprehensive investments in communities that enhance health and quality of life. The Sustainable Communities Partnership with Housing & Urban Development, Transportation and Environmental Protection is an interagency effort to support community plans that will reduce vehicle miles traveled; connect green, safe, and affordable housing options to transportation; and create inclusive and inspiring community spaces. We are aligning housing, education, safety and health and human service policies such that every child grows up in a rich and nurturing community.

    World Health Day also speaks to the key role urban leaders can play in a cultural shift toward healthy living. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative is an example of such an effort here in the US. The WHO’s “1000 Cities Initiative” urges cities across the world to do the same. This weekend I plan a long bike ride with the kids in support of global health and wellness.

    Are you ready? Let’s Move!

    Adolfo Carrión, Jr. is the Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs

  • 4/2/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

    Each week, please look out for the White House Office of Urban Affairs Newsletter, which provides information related to the Administration’s urban policy initiatives, funding opportunities, featured articles and upcoming events.

    Top News

    President Obama Discusses Jobs and the Economy: Today, the President traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he toured Celgard, LLC – a company that was awarded Recovery Act funding to expand its ability to produce separators for lithium-ion batteries – and delivered remarks on the economy.  Cabinet Secretaries and senior Administration officials also fanned out across the country and  participated in events to amplify President Obama’s jobs agenda.  This month’s employment report showed continued signs of gradual labor market healing and the creation of the largest number of new jobs in three years.

    President Obama Signs Historic Health Care and Education Legislation: This week President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which delivered a significant down payment on the President’s ambitious agenda to make higher education more affordable and help more Americans earn a college degree. This legislation strengthens the Pell Grant program, invests in community colleges, extends support for Historically Black Colleges and other Minority Serving Institutions, and helps student borrowers manage their student loan debt by capping repayments at 10% of their discretionary income.

    "Census Day" -- April 1: Yesterday, President Obama issued a proclamation recognizing April 1, 2010, as Census Day and called upon all Americans to observe the day by completing their census form and mailing them back.  “Since our Nation's earliest days, the census has played an important role in identifying where resources are most needed.  This procedure, enshrined in our Constitution, informs our Government's responses to the evolving needs of American communities. By completing this year's survey, we can ensure they receive adequate funding for schools, hospitals, senior centers, and other public works projects. The 2010 Census will also aid employers in selecting locations for new factories and businesses as our economy recovers. On Census Day, I urge all Americans to fulfill their civic duty by participating in the 2010 Census.”

    Administration Announces Second Round of Assistance for Hardest-Hit Housing Markets  (makinghousingafforable.gov): The Administration announced an expansion of the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest Hit Housing Markets (the “HFA Hardest Hit Fund”), targeting five additional states with high shares of their populations living in local areas of concentrated economic distress.  This second HFA Hardest Hit Fund will include up to $600 million in funding for innovative measures to help families stay in their homes or otherwise avoid foreclosure in states that have been hit hard by concentrated economic distress.

    US Department of Labor Announces Nearly $4 billion in 2010 Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act Allotments (Department of Labor):  This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced 2010 allotments to states and outlying areas under the Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act. The nearly $4 billion in funds will be used to help Americans get back to work through high quality employment and training services, which are delivered largely through the department's national network of One-Stop Career Centers.

    First Lady Announces Frist and Booker will be Vice Chairs of The Partnership for a Healthier America Foundation: This week, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Partnership for a Healthier America, an independent, non-partisan organization that will mobilize the private sector, foundations, government officials, the media and others around the goals of the Let’s Move! campaign.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Newark Mayor Cory Booker will serve as Honorary Vice Chairs, and Dr. James R. Gavin III, will serve as chairman. First Lady Obama announced, “The Foundation is going to also connect potential partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors, working to support the best, the most innovative programs in our communities -– and working to replicate these success stories all across the country.”

    FEATURED

    Brookings Institute on the Demand for Transformative Investments Exposed by the Recovery Act (The New Republic): In “Stimulus Creativity: Oversubscribed,” Bruce Katz and Marc Muro of the Brookings Institute Metropolitan Policy Program reflect on the creativity inspired by the Recovery Act and the national appetite for flexible and transformative federal programming.

    WH Urban Affairs “Wrap Up” of the World Urban Forum V: In “What’s Your World Urban View,” White House Office of Urban Affairs Associate Director Alaina C. Beverly reflects on the Urban Affairs team’s participation in the fifth World Urban Forum.  “The Urban Team just returned from Brazil where we attended the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum V.  […] The event, which attracted over 9,000 people and leaders from over 160 countries, allowed for a collective examination of the question, “How do we use this ‘urban-growth moment’ to plan for future generations and improve the quality of urban living today?”

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

    $1.2 million in Recovery Act Funds to Assist Workers Impacted by Foreign Trade: Deadline April 14th (Department of Labor): One to four projects will be funded to provide technical assistance and outreach to dislocated workers impacted by foreign trade. Funding awarded through this competition will support grantees that provide direct training or technical assistance to ensure that Trade Adjustment Assistance petitions are complete and accurate. It also will allow organizations to improve the delivery of Workforce Investment Act Rapid Response services to trade-affected workers.

    Drug Free Communities Support Mentoring Program Grants: Deadline April 23rd (Office of National Drug Control Policy): An estimated 15 new mentoring grants will be awarded (up to $75,000 per grant, per year) to drug and alcohol prevention community coalitions from across the nation.

    Community-Based Job Training Grants: Deadline: April 29th (Department of Labor): The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of approximately $125 million in funds for Community-Based Job Training Grants. Community-Based Job Training Grants will be awarded through a competitive process to support workforce training for high-growth/high-demand industries through the national system of community, technical and tribal colleges.

    Energy Efficient Building Systems Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative:  Deadline May 6th (Department of Energy): This is the first pilot project of the Interagency Regional Innovation Clusters Taskforce (Taskforce). The Taskforce has been charged with developing a model for coordinated federal and regional efforts that foster and use regional innovation clusters to develop sustainable and efficient models for attaining national strategic objectives including creating good jobs, increasing regional gross domestic product and promoting innovation in science and technology.

    Investing in Innovation (i3) Program: Deadline May 11th (Department of Education): The Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Program will support local districts and nonprofit organizations—working in partnership with several districts and/or several schools—as they seek to implement educational innovations with promising or demonstrated effective outcomes for students.

    UPCOMING EVENTS

    April 6th
    The Philadelphia Economic Recovery Procurement Summit will be held on April 6th from 8:00 AM – 11:30 AM in Philadelphia, PA. The summit will help connect minority - and women-owned businesses to Recovery Act job opportunities.

  • What's your World Urban View?

    The Urban Team just returned from Brazil where we attended the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum V.  This year's theme was The Right to the City: Bridging the Urban Divide. With over half of the world's population living in cities, this global conversation on urban development commanded attention.

    The U.S. Delegation, led by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, included a wide breadth of senior Administration leadership.  The White House Office of Urban Affairs' participation was particularly well received as a symbol of President Obama's commitment to addressing the challenges and opportunities of an urbanized reality.
     
    The event, which attracted over 9,000 people and leaders from over 160 countries, allowed for a collective examination of the question, “How do we use this ‘urban-growth moment' to plan for future generations and improve the quality of urban living today?” Each participant's answer was informed by his or her particular world urban view.  Several consistent themes emerged, including: the need for comprehensive planning and standards for sustainable development, mobility as a tool of social and economic opportunity, the need for governments to consciously develop policies that promote inclusion, collaboration across levels of government, private and non-profit sectors, and civic society; and the need for industry and land use to adapt to economic, environmental and demographic shifts.

    Throughout the conference, participants explored ways to apply climate change innovations and energy efficiency tools to the increased demand for housing and demands on infrastructure resulting from urbanization.  During a webcast at the U.S. exhibition booth, Director Adolfo Carrion explained, “We are working to ensure that investments in infrastructure and land use are responsible and supportive of our future generations.”

    HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims highlighted the Sustainable Communities Partnership among HUD, DOT, and EPA as a cross-cutting national approach to investing in sustainability during a dialogue on the Energy and Climate Change Partnership for the Americas. Indeed, in a bilateral meeting, the Secretary of Urban Development for Mexico expressed interest in our Sustainable Communities Partnership principles because her office is implementing similar guidelines for "Integrated Sustainable Urban Development."

    The Forum also addressed the ways in which former industrial cities are grappling with economic transition, land use, and the challenges of attracting new industries. Rio de Janeiro, itself  a former textile and manufacturing town, is developing strategic plans for use of vacant factory space while struggling to resolve housing challenges, and preserve the culture of the city. Professor Marco Ponti, of the Politecnico in Milan, Italy, explained that many “rusty” European cities, as he referred to them, are experiencing a concentration of services and high housing prices in the urban core, which has displaced low-income residents to the outskirts of the city.  He urged leaders in European cities to create more affordable housing, encourage greater density, and give careful consideration to the unintended consequences of transit plans that may further marginalize the working poor.
     
    Urban Policy Director Derek Douglas shared the experience of American cities in economic transition.  For example, Youngstown, Ohio recently developed a citywide land use plan in response to decades of industrial decline and an alarming vacant property rate. "[The White House Office of] Urban Affairs and the Domestic Policy Council are working very closely with agencies across the Federal Government to develop integrated interventions and policies that will support capacity building, long-term strategic planning, and provide technical assistance to cities suffering from economic distress," Douglas said.

    The World Urban Forum provided six days of in-depth, quality exchanges on a myriad of issues that will serve to inform the work of the Obama Administration and the work of other leaders across the globe. It demonstrated that stakeholders worldwide are responding to the phenomenon of increased urbanization with open minds, a desire to share best practices, and a commitment to developing the best places possible in an increasingly urban world.

    Alaina C. Beverly is Associate Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs