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5/7/2010 Urban Affairs Newsletter

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

Top News

Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs to be Director of HUD Region II, NY & NJ: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan named Adolfo Carrión to serve as the Regional Director for New York and New Jersey. Currently Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, Carrión has worked to advance President Obama's agenda for urban America to make our cities and metropolitan areas more economically competitive, environmentally sustainable, and socially inclusive. His work establishing the Office of Urban Affairs has been credited with breaking down the silos that exist in the federal government to get the Federal Agencies better coordinated to deliver innovative results for America's communities, something strongly reflected in the President's FY2011 budget. In his new position, Carrión will also serve as HUD's liaison to mayors, city managers, elected representatives, state and local officials, congressional delegations, stakeholders and customers and will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of HUD programs and services to communities, and evaluate their efficiency and effectiveness.

Statement by President Obama on Consumer Protection and Financial Reform: “Nearly two years after the collapse on Wall Street that cost over 8 million jobs on Main Street, the American people deserve strong, tough reform that will help prevent another financial crisis.  The bill before the Senate demands accountability from Wall Street and includes the strongest consumer protections ever.”

White House Announces Grants for Health Information Program: This week, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the selection of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology through the Beacon Community program.  The $220 million in Recovery Act awards will not only help achieve meaningful and measurable improvements in health care quality, safety and efficiency in the selected communities, but also help lay the groundwork for an emerging health IT industry that is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs.

Romer on April Employment Numbers: “[The April] employment report shows the strongest signs yet of healing in the labor market, as private nonfarm payrolls expanded substantially. At the same time, the rise in the unemployment rate reminds us of how far we still have to go before the economy is fully recovered. Payroll employment increased by 290,000 in April--the largest one month employment gain since March 2006.

SBA Administrator Offers Economic Injury Assistance to Louisiana Small Businesses Affected by Deepwater BP Oil Spill: SBA Administrator Karen Mills announced today the agency is making low-interest loans available to Louisiana Gulf Coast small businesses suffering financial losses following the April 20th Deepwater BP oil spill that shut down commercial and recreational fishing along the state’s southeast coast.  “With the region still recovering from previous devastation and the national recession of the last couple years, it’s critical that we take every step we can to provide small businesses with resources to make it through this latest crisis so they can continue to drive local economic growth and provide good-paying jobs,” Mills said.

Transportation for a New Generation: “The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking public comment to help finalize a new strategic plan that returns the focus of transportation decisions to the people who use the transportation systems and their communities.” said Secretary Ray LaHood. The plan, Transportation for a New Generation, helps set the priorities of the department and offers a blueprint for providing the traveling public with safe, convenient, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices for the 21st century. “In opening our strategic plan for the public comment, we are giving citizens the opportunity to directly influence the shape of upcoming transportation decisions,” said Secretary LaHood.  The draft plan was developed through a deliberative interagency process and will be available for several weeks to receive comments and critiques from the public.

Citi Announces $200 Million Fund for CDFI’s to Spur Small Business Lending in Low Income U.S. Communities: Citi announced yesterday the launch of the Communities at Work Fund, a $200 million fund that will help fuel small business lending in low-wealth and low-income U.S. communities. The Communities at Work Fund will provide financing to both nonprofit and for profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Loan Funds that will then lend to local businesses in low-income communities.  The Fund will help sustain and grow U.S. businesses, drive job creation and contribute to the economic recovery of communities that are underserved by traditional financial institutions.

DOT Announces $775 Million In Federal Funds to Upgrade Nation’s Bus Systems: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that $775 million in federal funds is being made available to the nation’s transit providers to upgrade their bus systems. “The FTA is addressing the challenge of bringing our nation’s transit systems into a state of good repair head-on,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These funds will get us started, but we still have a long way to go.”

Proposed Rule Broadens DBE Program Inclusions, Requires Greater Accountability from Administering Agencies: Small businesses would benefit from a proposed rule that would help more economically and socially disadvantaged businesses owners participate in federal highway, transit and airport construction projects, while making the states and agencies that run the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program more accountable, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today.


“New EPA Water Infrastructure Policy Seeks to Encourage Smart Growth”: If you build it, they will come. And, if you don't, they won't. Such is the thinking behind a policy released late last month by the Environmental Protection Agency that instructs states to adopt smart-growth principles in allocating the $3.3 billion in water infrastructure funding that the federal government doles out each year. States, it asserts, should prioritize projects that upgrade the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in cities over projects intended to serve new developments on the suburban fringe.

New Report by Brookings Institution Analyzes Demographic Changes in the US Over the Past Decade: On Tuesday, May 11th, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings will unveil its State of Metropolitan America. The report documents a decade of dynamic economic and social change, and five key trends—population growth and outward expansion, growing racial and ethnic diversity, a large aging population, wide disparities in educational attainment, and polarizing incomes,—that demand a renewed national public policy focus.

Funding Opportunities

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.

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.

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.”

Commerce Announces New Innovation Competition - the i6 Challenge, Deadline June 15th: The Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new $12 million innovation competition - the i6 Challenge. The program, administered in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), seeks the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. EDA expects to award up to $1 million in each of its six regions, while NSF and NIH will award up to $6 million in additional funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees that are associated with winning teams.

Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Planning Grants, Deadline June 25th: The U.S. Department of Education has launched the Promise Neighborhood program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas. The $10 million available in fiscal 2010 will support up to 20 organizations with one year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods. Planning grants will range between $400,000 and $500,000.

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline July 16th: The Department of Transportation is soliciting application for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

Upcoming Events

May 13th
President Obama will travel to the Buffalo, New York area on Thursday, May 13th to discuss the economy.

May 17th
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) invite entrepreneurs, investors, universities, foundations, and non-profits to join in on the i6 Challenge conference call at 2pm EDT on May 17th.  The i6 Challenge is a competitive grant awarded to individuals with innovative ideas that drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship.

May 20th
Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas, to speak at George Washington University, at the 4th Annual Conference on Urban and Regional Policy.  The goal of the conference is to inform scholars, policy makers, and practitioners about regional resilience and the kinds of public policies and regional characteristics that can make metropolitan areas more resilient. The event is sponsored by George Washington University, the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute.