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4/23/10 Urban Affairs Newsletter

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

Top News

Holding Wall Street Accountable: President Barack Obama spoke to an audience at The Cooper Union in New York on Thursday about the urgent need to reform Wall Street. This comes as the administration urges passage of a plan that will end bailouts, hold Wall Street accountable, and protect consumers, taxpayers and the economy from the kind of abuses that helped bring about the economic crisis.

A New Foundation for Energy and the Environment: In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, President Obama reinforces the Administration’s commitment to making  communities greener and healthier.

Vice President Biden Announces Major New Energy Efficiency Effort: Vice President Joe Biden kicked off five days of Administration events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the announcement of the selection of 25 communities for up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy efficiency building retrofits.

Vice President Biden Announces Strengthening of Title IX: Vice President Biden announced Tuesday that the Administration has issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter that withdraws a 2005 interpretation of Title IX policy. Enacted in 1972, Title IX mandates that any educational institution receiving federal funding for programs and activities cannot discriminate on the basis of sex.  The 2005 policy issued compliance standards that were widely criticized for being inadequate and inconsistent with Title IX's nondiscrimination goals. Tuesday’s announcement reverses this interpretation, and returns to a more thorough test for assessing compliance with Title IX.

National Campaign Launches to Protect Children and Families from Lead Poisoning: In an effort to raise awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning among parents and pregnant women who live in homes built before 1978, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) joined the Ad Council to launch a national multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign. "Lead poisoning is a costly, tragic and irreversible environmental disease that robs children of their ability to reach their full potential - yet it is entirely preventable," said Ruth Ann Norton, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. "That is why we teamed with our partners at the EPA, HUD and the Ad Council to launch this national lead poisoning prevention and awareness campaign. Together, we can make lead history."

EPA Awards Nearly $80 Million to Cleanup and Revitalize Our Communities: Neighborhoods to Gain Health, Environmental and Economic Benefits: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected communities in 40 states, four tribes, and one U.S. Territory for awards of $78.9 million in brownfields.  This funding will be used for the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. "To strengthen our economy, we must first strengthen our communities," said Administrator Jackson. "Cleaning up and revitalizing these contaminated sites opens doors to new businesses, new homes and new jobs for American workers while making our environment cleaner and the community healthier. This shows that what is right for the environment is right for the economy."

New DOT Program to Help Small Businesses Compete for Government Contracts: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday announced a new bonding education program aimed at helping qualified small and disadvantaged businesses compete for government contracting opportunities. In collaboration with the Surety and Fidelity Association of America (SFAA), the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) will host a series of pilot education workshops to get small businesses bond ready.   The start dates and city locations for the pilots are Chicago, May 27; Dallas, June 10; and Atlanta, June 24. “President Obama, Vice President Biden and I want to ensure that as the economy recovers, small businesses have every opportunity to compete successfully for contracts in the transportation and construction industries,” said Secretary LaHood.

Cardin, Kerry, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Address the Challenges of Urban Development: U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently introduced legislation that will meet the challenges of urbanization in developing countries and expand existing U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to craft better strategies for sustainable urban development. The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 (S. 3229) will target the challenges of urbanization in the developing world, whose cities face unprecedented growth from enlarging slums, increasing levels of pollution, overburdened transport systems, and the lack of affordable housing.


The Drive to Make Cities Greener: Cities and the regions surrounding them occupy only about 3% of the Earth's surface, but their residents consume more than 75% of the world's natural resources. In the U.S., over-reliance on the automobile contributed to urban sprawl, pollution and crippling congestion. Cities and their suburbs began taking in vast amounts of nonrenewable resources and putting out large quantities of waste. But many cities, including Atlanta, are beginning to adopt sustainable practices in their development plans that will shape the way the cities grow over the next 25 years and beyond.

Remarks by the Vice President at the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project Forum: In an address to The Brooking Institution, Vice President Biden explained that the next economic expansion will not be successful if it “fails to lift the middle class, if it bubbles and bursts, if it gives a high five to Wall Street while stiff-arming Main Street…it will be an expansion that we will not be proud of and it will not be the expansion that the President and I believe this nation so badly needs.”

Lawrence H. Summers on “The Auto Industry a Year Later”: Just about a year ago, the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse. General Motors recently announced that it has repaid its $6.7 billion loan to the U.S. government in full five years ahead of schedule, and Chrysler announced that, after taking one-time charges last year associated with its restructuring, it produced an operating profit in the first quarter of 2010 for the first time since the economic crisis began. This turnaround wasn’t an accident of history. It was the result of considered and politically difficult decisions made by President Obama to provide GM and Chrysler – and indeed the auto industry – a lifeline, if they could demonstrate the will to reshape their businesses and chart a path toward long-term viability without ongoing government assistance.

Infrastructure USA Conversation with WH Office of Urban Affairs Director Adolfo Carrion: Recently Infrastructure USA highlighted their conversation with Director Carrion on the future of America’s infrastructure and more.

Community Development Voices Form A Chorus for Change: WH Office of Urban Affairs Associate Director Alaina Beverly comments on the launch of the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, a venture of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  She notes, “the Institute will provide evidence that will help to operationalize the philosophy that strong neighborhoods are central to strong regions.”

Funding Opportunities

Drug Free Communities Support Mentoring Program Grants, Deadline Today: 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 26th-27th
The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship will be held on April 26th-27th, 2010 at the Ronald Regan Building in Washington, D.C.