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5/14/2010 Urban Affairs Newsletter

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

Top News

President Obama Speaks to the Role of Small Business in Buffalo, NY: This week, President Obama travelled to Buffalo, New York where he visited Industrial Support Inc. and discussed the important role of small businesses as the “backbone of America’s economy.”

President Obama Releases National Drug Control Strategy To Reduce Drug Use and Its Consequences: President Obama released the Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, which establishes five-year goals for reducing drug use and its consequences through a balanced policy of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and international cooperation.  The Strategy was developed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) with input from a variety of Federal, State, and local partners.

First Lady Michelle Obama Releases Action Plan to Solve Childhood Obesity: This week the Childhood Obesity Task Force released an action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.  In a recent blog post, Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, encourages readers to review the Task Force’s report and its recommendations.  Barnes explains, “[This plan] will serve as a roadmap for the work we need to do together to make sure that our kids grow up healthy and have the opportunity to live active lives.”

The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster which can seriously damage the economy and environment of our Gulf states and could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who live throughout the Gulf region. From the beginning, President Obama has been clear that the Administration will not rest until this leak is contained and cleaned up and that the government will aggressively pursue full compensation for damages from BP and other responsible parties. That is why President Obama this week sent Congress a legislative package that will: enable the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response to continue expeditiously, speed assistance to people affected by this spill, and strengthen and update the oil spill liability system to better address catastrophic events.

New Federal Strategy for Chesapeake Launches Major Initiatives, Holds Government Accountable: The new federal strategy for the Chesapeake region, released on Wednesday,  focuses on protecting and restoring the environment in communities throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed and in its thousands of streams, creeks and rivers. The strategy includes using rigorous regulations to restore clean water, implementing new conservation practices on 4 million acres of farms, conserving 2 million acres of undeveloped land and rebuilding oysters in 20 tributaries of the bay. To increase accountability, federal agencies will establish milestones every two years for actions to make progress toward measurable environmental goals. The “Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” was developed under an Executive Order issued by President Obama in May 2009.

HUD Secretary Donovan Announces New Direction For HUD Through Agency’s Strategic Plan: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled the agency's Strategic Plan, which will serve as the agency's roadmap toward accomplishing its mission to "create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and affordable homes for all." "This Strategic Plan isn't just a paper exercise to produce a set of marching orders, but a real attempt to express what we want our agency, our homes and our neighborhoods to look like in the years to come," said Donovan during his address to all HUD staff nationwide. "The plan sets out clear goals and defines success as we take HUD to its fiftieth anniversary in 2015."

HUD Awards Nearly $28 Million To Public Housing Agencies To Promote Jobs, Self-Sufficiency: This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $27,947,749 in grants to public housing and non-profit agencies across the U.S. to help public housing residents find employment and foster economic independence. The funding will also link elderly residents with supportive services that will allow them to age-in-place. "This is money well spent in these economic times," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "This funding allows our partner local housing agencies to provide families with more than just affordable housing, but also resources that will help them obtain jobs and achieve personal and career goals."

Wanted: Peer Reviewers for Promise Neighborhoods: The Promise Neighborhoods planning grant competition seeks peer reviewers.  The Program is intended to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in our most distressed communities. Because the challenges faced by communities with high concentrations of poverty are interrelated, Promise Neighborhoods is taking a comprehensive approach designed to ensure that children have access to a continuum of cradle-through-college-to-career solutions, with strong schools at the center that will support academic achievement, healthy development, and college and career success. Reviewers are sought from various backgrounds and professions and will independently read, score, and provide written comments for grant applications.


The New Metro Map and Implications for Policymakers: The Huffington Post reviews the Brookings Institution analysis of 2000-2008 census data in the article “Suburbs Losing Young Whites To Cities, Brookings Institution Finds.” “Calling 2010 the ‘decade of reckoning,’ the report urges policymakers to shed outdated notions of America's cities and suburbs and work quickly to address the coming problems caused by the dramatic shifts in population.”

CEO’s for Cities Fosters New Ideas for Improving America’s Cities At “2010 Strategy Session”: CEO’s for Cities, “a national cross-sector network of urban leaders from the civic, business, academic and philanthropic sectors dedicated to building and sustaining the next generation of great American cities,” recently released a summary of observations and session insights from their April 20th-21st National Strategy Session.  The Strategy Session covered a range of provocative topics, from best practices for catalyzing innovation to increasing college attainment, from strategies to reduce poverty to methods of reinventing public participation.

The Arizona Republic Asks “Can you afford to live in your house?”: An article in The Arizona Republic highlights the Sustainable Communities Partnership and efforts to consider combined housing and transportation costs in the formula to determine ‘affordability.’ “For years, renters and homebuyers were told they couldn't afford a home if it cost more than 30 percent of their income. Now, an influential research center has come up with another yardstick that it says more accurately measures whether your choice of housing is beyond your means: The combined cost of housing and transportation shouldn't exceed 45 percent of your income.”

Funding Opportunities

2010 Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, Deadline May 15th: If your organization is interested in applying for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, please call the HUD NOFA Information Center as soon as possible. The NOFA Information Center will ask for your organization name and address, contact name, email, and telephone number, including area code. HUD's NOFA Information Center 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. More here.

UPDATE: CDFI Fund 2010 New Markets Tax Credits 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.” 2010 NMTC Electronic Allocation Application Now Available.

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 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 2 p.m. EDT on May 17th.  The i6 Challenge is an excellent opportunity for teams drawn from state or local government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or Indian tribes  to work together to accelerate technology commercialization and new venture formation across the United States, for the ultimate purpose of helping to drive economic growth and job creation.

May 18th
President Barack Obama will visit the Youngstown, Ohio area to discuss jobs and the economy.

The White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, and the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities will host a conference entitled Auto Communities and the Next Economy: Partnerships in Innovation. The conference – to be held Tuesday, May 18th, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in D.C., will begin at 8:30 a.m.

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 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.