Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • A Revolution in Planning

    It used to be that HUD would require more than 1,200 cities, counties and states to undergo a paper-based, time-intensive and costly planning process as a condition of receiving billions of dollars in federal funding. All of this changed on May 7, when the Office of Community Planning and Development at HUD launched the eCon Planning Suite, a set of tools using 21st Century data and technology to help communities make sure scarce federal dollars are targeted to where they are needed most and can achieve the biggest impact.  And on top of that, it’s estimated that this new approach will save state and local communities at least 65,000 staff hours each year and thousands of dollars in consultant fees.

    These new 21st Century tools will support communities in need-driven, place-based decision-making that will improve community and economic development outcomes – in short, targeting federal funds to the places that need it most.

    HUD Planning Demonstration

    Assistant Secretary Márquez demonstrates the eCon Planning Suite to community partners in Houston (Photo courtesy of HUD).

    HUD’s new approach to planning will also empower the public in a way we’ve never been able to before.  Imagine, anyone can log on to a new mapping tool (we call it CPD Maps) and see precisely where the need is in their neighborhoods, where investments have been made, and be more informed when they argue for their vision of where federal tax dollars ought to be targeted.  This is democracy in data!

  • State Treasurers: Empowering Americans to Make Smart Financial Decisions

    Last week, the White House convened a Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment to draw attention to the importance of financial education for all Americans.  Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who sits on her state’s Coalition for Financial Literacy, moderated a panel that highlighted the work of community leaders.  Treasurer Kopp noted after the summit that, “schools, financial institutions and community groups all have the responsibility to improve financial literacy not only among our children but also families engaged in family budgeting, college savings and retirement.  Awareness certainly is important, but so are practical ways to ensure a stable financial foundation for all American families."

    Treasurer Kopp isn’t alone in this effort.  Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo recently visited North Providence High School to mark the expansion of EverFi, Rhode Island’s web-based financial literacy program.  EverFi is used in 19 Rhode Island high schools and will soon spread to another 25 campuses.  This program is helping people build a sound economic foundation at an early age.   "Financial empowerment remains one of my top priorities and is critical to the preparedness and success of Rhode Island's high school students," Raimondo said

    Under Delaware State Treasurer Chip Flowers’ leadership, Delaware has created an Economic Index, which summarizes key state and national economic data in a clear and coherent way so that Delawareans can better understand their state’s finances.  Flowers’ office also issues a monthly Prosperity Portal which provides financial education resources for everyone from young adults and families to small businesses.  Attending college, caring for the elderly, getting married, and so many other key life moments can bring on great financial challenges.  That’s why Flowers’ office, like so many others, provides these types of helpful resources. 

  • Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald: Let’s Invest in Our Youth- Don’t Double Their Rates

    If Congress doesn’t act by July 1st, interest rates on federal subsidized loans will double and the average student will accumulate an additional $1,000 in debt.  We’re pleased that despite failing to address it in their budget, Republicans in Congress now profess to be concerned about this coming rate hike. But now it’s time for them to stop refighting old political battles and prove they’re serious by proposing a real solution to keep rates low for students without burdening middle class families or undercutting preventive health care for women.  Higher education can’t be a luxury for just a few, it’s an economic imperative which leads to better jobs and a strong middle class. 

    Iowa State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, who oversees his state’s important College Savings program, understands that students need help now more than ever.  That’s why he spoke out in a recent letter to the editor published in the Oskaloosa News and the Newton Independent.  Treasurer Fitzgerald wrote:

    I recently had the opportunity to visit with President Obama when he was in Iowa over concerns with the potential interest rate hike for student loans.  It became apparent as I was listening to him that the President and I share one very strong belief.  We need to help young people and their families make college affordable. 

  • President Obama Joins Elected Officials and Student Leaders to Urge #DontDoubleMyRate

    This afternoon, President Obama joined elected officials and student leaders from colleges and universities across the country on a phone call to discuss the effort to prevent interest rates on more than 7 million students’ loans from doubling on July 1, unless Congress takes action.

    During the call, mayors, governors and other officials were joined in their offices by local students to hear the President’s message and they tweeted out messages to echo his call to keep college affordable for all Americans. You can see photos from those on the call below or at Storify.com.

    Learn more about the President’s efforts here and join in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #DontDoubleMyRate.

  • Director Richard Cordray Invites Local Leaders to Partner with CFPB in Protecting Consumers

    On Tuesday, I joined Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray and state and local officials from across the country for a Local Leaders Call to discuss how the CFPB is working to protect consumers and make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans.

    Director Cordray, who previously served as Franklin County Ohio Treasurer, Ohio State Representative, Ohio State Treasurer and Ohio State Attorney General, spoke about his experiences as a state and local official and the importance of the CFPB partnering with local enforcement organizations to prevent predatory lenders from taking advantage of the American people.

    He also discussed the Bureau’s work to protect students and veterans and highlighted the Executive Order that President Obama signed on Friday to crack down on bad actors who prey on veterans and servicemembers considering higher education.

    You can find out more about the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov or by following the agency on Twitter at @CFPB.

    David Agnew is Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President

  • Georgia State Representative Scott Holcomb: Serving Those Who Serve Us

    Last week, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited Fort Stewart in Georgia where the President signed an Executive Order to help ensure all of America’s service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members have the information they need to make informed educational decisions and are protected from aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions.

    Georgia State Representative Scott Holcomb, who served at Fort Stewart, reflects on the President’s commitment to veterans:

    Just before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I received an email from my father.  A combat veteran from Vietnam, my father was a quiet man who did not write much, but what he did write was important.  It was, “Look after your fellow soldiers and you’ll be ok.” 
     
    Looking out for each other is a core value for those who serve, and the President and First Lady understand this.  I had the honor of meeting with the President and First Lady during their visit with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart and time and time again they said to the soldiers, veterans, and their families: “we’ve got your backs.”