Bidenomics is rooted in the simple idea that we need to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down. And we are making progress: President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), continues to generate historic investments in cities and towns across the country. Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new steps to ensure underserved communities can build wealth and advance community-driven priorities.
Community and economic development projects—such as investments in housing, small businesses, climate and disaster resilience, and transportation infrastructure—have great potential to build community wealth and strong local economies and support long-time residents and businesses. But federal investments and subsidies in underserved communities have historically fallen short of achieving these goals. Today, the Biden-Harris administration is publicly releasing a new policy memorandum to all federal agencies that outlines actions federal agencies can take to advance equitable development in American cities and urban communities. The Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC)—a coalition of federal agencies that support economic growth in historically underserved communities—is announcing a slate of new actions that will strengthen how federal community investment programs serve communities across the country that have historically lacked access to resources and capital including communities of color, low-income communities, rural areas, and Tribal communities. Taken together, these critical actions build upon President Biden and Vice President Harris’s commitment to creating economic opportunity and advancing equity across the Federal Government.
“President Biden and I have been working to grow an economy that works for all people,” said Vice President Harris. “Today’s announcement builds on these efforts and will help make sure that our Administration’s historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, and manufacturing reach all communities as we build a future where all Americans — no matter zip code— can thrive.”
White House Policy Directive to Federal Agencies to Advance Urban Equitable Development
Today, the Biden-Harris administration is publicly releasing a new policy memorandum pursuant to a key provision in President Biden’s Executive Order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government (Executive Order 14091), which directs agencies to undertake efforts, consistent with applicable law, to strengthen urban equitable development policies and practices such as advancing community wealth building projects; preventing physical and economic displacement as the result of federal investments; facilitating equitable flows of private capital, including to underserved communities; and incorporating outcome-based metrics focused on urban equitable development in the design and deployment of federal programs and policies. This effort is complementary to the Administration’s efforts to equitably lift up rural and Tribal communities across the nation, including through historic investments and expanded access to federal resources.
The memorandum being publicly released today outlines principles to guide agencies on actions agencies can take to advance urban equitable development and can also be used by the private sector, non-profits and philanthropy, and state and local governments to guide their investments and policies to:
- Expand access to resources for underserved communities. Strategically allocate public funding to address longstanding inequitable resource distributions, encourage equitable private sector investment, and support local organizations’ capacity to receive and steward public and private resources for community development and aligned services.
- Build community wealth. Prioritize development that generates and retains wealth in a community by investing in the needs of both current and future residents, businesses, and institutions; mitigating displacement pressures; and supporting the long-term economic mobility of people and vitality of places.
- Invest in a community’s strengths. Elevate a community’s assets, culture, and history as central to a comprehensive economic development strategy, invest in opportunities to support local capacity and civic infrastructure, and build on strengths.
- Empower community voice and vision. Center community engagement, input, and goals throughout the phases of program or project design, delivery, and evaluation; ensure the inclusion of underserved community members in engagement efforts; and intentionally work to build trust among diverse stakeholders.
- Respond to multiple areas of community need. Ensure federal investments, including outreach, engagement, and capacity-building efforts, are coordinated across agencies to holistically advance equity and address concurrent barriers to economic mobility and opportunity.
- Measure and expand upon what works. Establish clear outcomes, metrics, and evaluation criteria, derived with input from local stakeholders, to track community goals, adjust investment strategies, build evidence for both the short- and long-term impacts of equitable development, and scale successful pilots and programs.
1The memorandum builds on early action by the Biden-Harris Administration. Last year, the Department of Transportation launched its Reconnecting Communities Pilot program, a first-of-its-kind initiative to reconnect communities that are cut off from opportunity and burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions. This year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, which when finalized will lead to greater equity and choice in housing opportunities for communities that have faced segregation and disinvestment, while empowering communities and increasing transparency.
New Public Sector Efforts to Facilitate the Flow of Resources into Underserved Communities
Today, the Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC)  is announcing a slate of new actions to strengthen how federal community investment programs serve communities across the country that have historically lacked access to resources and capital. In July of last year, Vice President Harris announced the ICIC, a coalition of agencies with a focus on aligning federal investments to support economic growth in historically underserved communities and address economic disparities. Since its creation, the ICIC has sought to improve the operational coordination of federal investment programs to maximize their collective impact for all Americans, including communities that have been historically underserved, such as communities of color, low-income communities, rural areas, and Tribal communities.
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing that the ICIC agencies will take the following actions:
- Adopt a ‘no wrong door’ policy to ensure that small businesses and entrepreneurs get the assistance and information most relevant to them. ICIC Agencies will collaborate across their nationwide network of field offices  to provide easy-to-use information guides and train staff on the full suite of federal capital products and technical assistance programs.
- Support community finance market development through access to secondary markets. HUD, through Ginnie Mae (GNMA), Treasury’s CDFI Fund, and USDA will engage with Federal Home Loan Banks and community-based lenders to enable more borrowers to access affordable homeownership through providing access to global financial markets through HUD’s GNMA guarantee. Treasury will also conduct new outreach to private investors and CDFIs to better understand the metrics that could best support market development, secondary market access, and the value of CDFIs to the communities they serve.
- Better connect rural communities to capital for growing small businesses, developing affordable housing, and workforce training. As part of the ICIC’s commitment to deliver capital to rural and Tribal communities, the ICIC will train field and Rural Partners Network (RPN) staff on how federal support can best support local efforts around affordable housing, small business development, and workforce development. RPN is a USDA-led, whole-of-government program to increase access to federal resources in rural and Tribal communities by supporting full-time federal staff who are partnering with 36 communities in 10 states and Puerto Rico. RPN is also developing rural economic development materials, such as webinars and guides, to help all rural communities identify and access federal funds on Rural.gov.
- Identify opportunities to improve the alignment of federal investments to maximize community impact, including through expanding access to capital and affordable housing. The ICIC will ensure that new programs funded in the BIL and IRA are designed and deployed in such a way. As a starting point, Treasury, in partnership with HUD, will issue guidance to make it easier for Treasury’s State and Local Federal Relief Funds (SLFRF) program to be paired with HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).
- Launch a pilot to analyze how federal community and economic development investments flow into, and interact in, urban neighborhoods and rural communities. In partnership with local communities, this interagency pilot will inform how federal community investment flows can benefit recipient communities.
1The ICIC members include the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce (Commerce), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of the Treasury (Treasury), Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Small Business Administration (SBA)
2Field offices and external resources partners include USDA’s State Rural Development Offices and Rural Partners Network Staff; Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers; DOT’s Small Business Transportation Resource Centers; SBA’s Field Offices; and Treasury’s CDFI Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative.