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3/26/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

A weekly look at recent and upcoming events in urban policy from the Office of Urban Affairs.

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

Housing Program Enhancements Offer Additional Options for Struggling Homeowners (Department of Housing and Urban Development): Today, as part of its ongoing commitment to continuously improve housing relief efforts, the Administration announced adjustments to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) programs. These program adjustments will better assist responsible homeowners who have been affected by the economic crisis through no fault of their own. The program modifications will expand flexibility for mortgage servicers and originators to assist more unemployed homeowners and to help more people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth because their local markets saw large declines in home values. These changes will help the Administration meet its goal of stabilizing housing markets by offering a second chance to up to 3 to 4 million struggling homeowners through the end of 2012.

Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum Attracts Record Number of Exhibitors and Visitors (U.N. Habitat): Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was the key speaker on Monday, kicking-off the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janiero. With 110 exhibitors from 35 countries around the world and over 10,000 in attendance, this years event is being called by organizers the “best ever.”

Public Housing Authorities Meet Critical Recovery Act Deadline, Create Jobs and Rehab Homes for Low-Income Families (Department of Housing and Urban Development): On Wednesday, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that over 3,100 public housing authorities across the U.S. successfully met a critical funding deadline outlined in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). As a result, the nearly $3 billion in Public Housing Capital Fund grants awarded one year ago are being used to make significant improvements to tens of thousands of public housing units nationwide; creating or saving 9,000 jobs and growing the economy. HUD's Capital Fund Program provides annual funding to public housing authorities to develop, finance, and/or modernize the public housing in their communities. 

Education Secretary Issues Statement on The Nation's Report Card in Reading for 4th, 8th Graders (Department of Education): On Wednesday Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that more must be done to close the achievement gap in America and ensure that all children are offered a quality education. Secretary Duncan stated that “results once again show that the achievement of American students isn’t growing fast enough. After modest gains in recent years, 4th grade reading scores are flat and 8th grade scores were up just one point. The achievement gap didn’t narrow by a statistically significant amount in either grade.”

EPA Report: Redevelopment Continues in Urban Neighborhoods / Smart Growth Strategies Emphasize Reuse of Land (Environmental Protection Agency):An updated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report shows a continuing shift in development toward urban neighborhoods in the United States, despite a slow real estate market. This trend, described in EPA’s 2010 report, “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions,” shows that redevelopment continues in many urban neighborhoods. Taking advantage of opportunities to reuse land and to redevelop underused sites is a key smart growth strategy. It helps communities protect natural lands from being developed, strengthens the local economy, and puts new homes, stores, and jobs within easy reach of surrounding neighborhoods.

US Department of Labor Announces $12 Million in Funds for Prisoner Re-Entry Programs (Department of Labor): Additional funding to go to 24 groups who are currently operating prisoner re-entry programs through the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders initiative. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis stated that this funding will help ex-offenders “re-enter society and transition to stable careers.” Today, rehabilitated ex-offenders are returning to communities across the country in record numbers.


Administration’s “Livability Initiatives” Featured (New York Times): In a New York Times article titled “‘Smart Growth’ Taking Hold in U.S. Cities,” the author sheds light on a new study that shows increased development in central cities. The study found that “central city” construction in 26 of America’s 50 largest  metropolitan areas outpaced suburban expansion. The study goes on to suggest that there has been a “fundamental shift” away from continued sprawl and toward urban redevelopment.


$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 (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.


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.

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