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6/18/10 Urban Affairs Weekly Newsletter

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

Top News

President Obama Pledges Continued Action in Gulf Coast: In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, President Obama outlined the Administration’s effort to curb the damage of the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, assist affected communities, and increase regulation to prevent a similar disaster in the future. The President also announced that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus – a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast – will take the lead on developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan.

The President Applauds House Bill to Help Fund Small Businesses: The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would create essential tax breaks and increase access to credit for small businesses, legislation strongly supported by President Obama. One of the key initiatives to help America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs, President Obama heralded approval of the Small Business Lending Fund and State Small Business Credit Initiative as a “significant step toward getting small businesses the financing they need to start up, expand, and hire more workers.”

Administration Kicks Off “Recovery Summer”: President Obama traveled to Columbus, Ohio Friday to participate in the groundbreaking of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project. Vice President Biden and Cabinet Secretaries will also take to the road in the coming weeks to celebrate “Recovery Summer”—a six-week long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs created by the Recovery Act.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to Release Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness: Each night, 640,000 men, women, and children in the United States are without housing. In an effort to combat this fact, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director Barbara Poppe announced this week the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness. The plan, titled Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, is a response to the 2009 HEARTH Act which mandated that USICH submit to Congress a "national strategic plan" to end homelessness. Opening Doors will be released June 22nd.

HUD Report: Slight Drop in Homelessness from 2008 to 2009: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress revealed that the total number of homeless persons in America dropped slightly between 2008 and 2009 although the number of homeless families increased. The report showed that over the course of that year the number of individuals in emergency shelters and transitional housing programs dropped by nearly 58,000 people or 5 percent. Meanwhile, sheltered homeless persons in families increased by almost 19,000 people or 3.6 percent.

U.S. Department of Energy Grants Funding to Expand Local Energy Efficiency Efforts: Twenty communities across the country have been selected to receive more than $60 million in funding to implement local energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that will reduce energy use by American homes, vehicles, and businesses and make strides toward our clean energy future.  The Recovery Act projects announced this week will continue to empower communities to address their clean energy priorities through projects such as energy efficiency retrofits, efficiency improvements to transportation systems, and installations of renewable energy systems to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

DOT Efforts to Increase Bicycling and Walking Pay Off: U.S. Department of Transportation released new data this week that shows that both bicycling and walking trips have increased by 25 percent since 2001. The report comes after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a policy change to promote bicycle and pedestrian opportunities that encourage transportation agencies to go beyond minimum standards and provide safe and convenient facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. “Americans want and need safe alternatives to driving. And by making biking and walking safer and more accessible, we’ll be able to provide Americans with more choices and help foster more active, livable communities,” Secretary LaHood commented.

EDA Grants $1.5 Million to Expand JumpStart, Inc.: U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke this week announced a $1.5 million Economic Development Administration grant to JumpStart, Inc. The grant, which will promote innovation and small business development in the cities of Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gary, Ind.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Duluth, Minn., works to improve areas affected by the restructuring of the automotive industry. JumpStart will help develop regional entrepreneurship action plans and training and assistance programs for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.


Atlanta Housing Authority: CEO Renee Lewis Glover Reflects on 15 Years of Change: Over her time with the Atlanta Housing Authority, Renee Lewis Glover has overseen immeasurable change, including the dismantling of distressed and crime-ridden public housing projects and replacing it with better physical and social conditions for the families. Reflecting on her tenure, Glover writes that Atlanta’s new business and affordable housing models have led to improved community, improved prospects for youth, reductions in crime, and increased vitality in many neighborhoods.

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.

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: Environmental Protection Agency &Sustainable Communities Partnership Greening America's Capitals, Deadline July 9: The Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), announced a funding opportunity to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies. This program will assist three to four communities per year, beginning in the fall of 2010.  EPA is soliciting letters of interest from mayors of state capitals.

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.

Local and Tribal Government 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. More here.

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application 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

June 22nd — U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness will host an event at the White House to introduce Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The event will take place Tuesday at 9 am and can be watched live at

June 22nd —Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy Derek Douglas will speak at the Brookings Institution Working Session on Urban Priorities and Investments, part of the IBM Smarter Cities initiative on Tuesday at 2 pm.

June 23rd — Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett will speak at Atlantic Magazine’s Future of the City Forum on Wednesday at 1:30 pm.