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6/11/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

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

Top News

The President Speaks to Kalamazoo Central High School Class of 2010: President Obama delivered the commencement address to the graduating class at Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI, the winners of the 2010 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. In his speech, the President applauded the school and the Kalamazoo community for working to provide every student, regardless of background, with a quality education and taking responsibility when this mission was unfulfilled. “You came together.  You were honest with yourselves about where you were falling short.  And you resolved to do better,” he said.

President Obama Highlights Small Business Initiatives to Move the Economy Forward: Following a meeting with small business owners and employees, the President spoke on steps his Administration is taking to help small businesses grow. He cited measures in the Recovery Act and new legislation being considered by Congress that would create tax breaks and increase access to credit as important efforts to boost the vitality of small businesses. “Small businesses will help lead this economic recovery.  And that’s why we will continue to stand by them.” 

Admiral Thad Allen Presses BP to Improve Claims Process for Gulf Coast Communities: National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen met with BP claims officials this week to improve transparency within the claims process and ensure BP meets commitments to restore Gulf Coast communities. In addition Admiral Allen sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward emphasizing the importance of just and timely reimbursements for those impacted economically and directing Hayward to provide Allen and affected States with information for how BP will meet the needs of individuals and communities affected.

Secretary Sebelius, First Lady Unveil Let’s Move Cities and Towns: This week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Let’s Move Cities and Towns, part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative that engages mayors and other municipal leaders in the campaign to solve the problem of childhood obesity. At the 78th Annual Conference of Mayors, Secretary Sebelius introduced the effort, emphasizing the ability of communities to solve the challenge locally and encouraging those in attendance to sign up as a prospective Let’s Move City or Let’s Move Town.

HUD to Provide Permanent Housing to 8,000 Homeless Veterans: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced last week that the Department’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program will provide public housing agencies with $58.6 million in funding specifically targeted to assist homeless veterans in their area. The funding is part of a $75 million national investment and the most recent joint effort between HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to end homelessness among veterans. A second round of vouchers is expected to be handed out next month. 

OMB Director Orszag Calls for Improved Efficiency Through Technology: Speaking at the Center for American Progress this week, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag addressed how the Obama Administration is using technology to streamline operations. “Ultimately, our goal is not to cut for cutting’s sake,” Orszag said, “but to modernize and reform government, to empower people with the information they require to make choices about what’s best for them, to make their voices heard by government officials, and to give the American people the data they need to bring about change.”


PolicyLink Report:  The President’s 2011 Budget: Creating Communities of Opportunity: The President’s 2011 Budget: Creating Communities of Opportunity is the first in a series of federal policy briefs that PolicyLink will issue in 2010 on how federal policy and programs can expand communities of opportunity in America.  Creating Communities of Opportunity, the inaugural report, aims to tell the story of new directions that the Administration is taking to foster inclusive communities and economies.  How well does the President’s budget proposal invest in equity? “Our answer: quite well,” writes PolicyLink Federal Policy Director Radhika Fox.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation Annual Report: Building Sustainable Communities: Across the nation, LISC’s local offices have been hard at work investing in projects and programs that make Sustainable Communities a reality.  In 2009, LISC helped create 8,800 affordable homes and apartments, financed 24 schools for 8,400 students, and renovated 15 playing fields for 30,000 kids.  Their 2009 annual report underscores progress made through their Building Sustainable Communities strategy.

Huffington Post Op-ed: “In Defense of PETRA”: Michael Kelly and Sunia Zaterman of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities penned an op-ed addressing HUD’s Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance (PETRA) proposal and noting that—given the persistence of federal underfunding and disinvestment in public housing—HUD’s creative and innovative ways to make up for chronic funding shortages have allowed them to save thousands of units and continue to serve their residents and neighborhoods. “Criticizing is easy. Finding a way to preserve and sustain affordable housing is not.”

Funding Opportunities

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Pre-Notice: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development posted the Choice Neighborhood FY 2010 Notice of Funding Availability Pre-Notice to give potential applicants guidance prior to the actual Choice Neighborhoods funding notice, to be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program.

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.

New: Livability Funding Opportunity from the Federal Transit Authority, Deadline July 12th: The Federal Transit Administration announces the availability of up to $25.7 million for alternatives analysis projects in support of the Department of Transportation's Livability Initiative. The program grants will fund alternatives analyses or technical work that would advance major transit investments that foster the livability principles outlined by the DOT–HUD–EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

New: Climate Showcase Communities Grant, Deadline July 26th: The Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of up to $10 million for the establishment and implementation of climate change initiatives. The grant supports improvements in the environmental, economic, public health, or social conditions of a community and is a product of the partnership between HUD, DOT, and the EPA that encourage smart growth practices.

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline (Pre-Application July 16th) August 23: The Department of Transportation is soliciting applications for the "TIGER II" discretionary grant program, a $600 million competitive transportation grant program for surface transportation projects.

Upcoming Events

June 16th
Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will offer opening remarks at the City Parks Alliance Red Fields to Green Fields Presentation and Discussion on Wednesday at 8:30 AM in Washington, DC.

June 18th
Associate Director of Urban Affairs Alaina Beverly will speak at the National School-Based Health Care Convention Luncheon Plenary on Friday at 11 AM in Arlington, VA.