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7/9/2010 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 Visits Electric Truck Manufacturer as “Recovery Summer” Continues: This week, as part of an Administration wide tour to see Recovery dollars at work, President Obama traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to visit Smith Electric Vehicles. The all-electric, zero emissions, commercial truck manufacturer’s new factory, built with a $32 million dollar grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is constructing trucks that will help companies cut fuel costs and emissions. Speaking to workers at the factory, the President said, “What you’re proving is that if we hold fast to that spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that’s always defined America, we’re not just going to emerge from this period of turmoil, we’re going to emerge stronger than we were before.”

Recovery Act Helps 82,000 Families Lower Energy Costs: As summer temperatures rise to some of the highest on record, weatherization efforts funded by the Recovery Act are helping households keep their energy bills down and their comfort up. As part of Recovery Summer, trained experts are working to insulate, caulk, weather-strip, and install better windows, furnaces, and water heaters for 82,000 homes. The Recovery Act invested $11 billion to make homes and businesses more efficient, including $5 billion to weatherize hundreds of thousands of low-income homes across the country. More than 240,000 homes have been weatherized since February 2009. Launched to Increase Public Information on Spill and Restoration: A new federal website was launched this week to provide the American people with clear, accessible information and resources on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. combines news, data, and updates related to administration-wide efforts to stop the BP oil leak and mitigate its impact on the environment, the economy, and public health. The website is a one-stop information source that brings together information from across the administration and increases public access to the latest reports.

Secretary Donovan Announces $190 Million in Aid to Homeless Assistance Programs: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide nearly $190 million in new grants to local homeless assistance programs across the country in a continuing effort to bring an end to homelessness across the Nation. The funding will help support 550 local projects that offer critical  housing and support services to nearly 20,000 homeless individuals and families. “This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s new strategy to end homelessness in all its forms,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We know that these programs are critical in moving people beyond a life on the streets and placing them on a path toward dignity and self sufficiency.”

Department of Transportation Invests $293 Million Towards Livability, Economic Development: U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced nearly $300 million in investments that will improve transit and create jobs in dozens of communities nationwide. The grants are part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. $130 million of the funds will be allocated to six new streetcar and bus rapid transit projects as part of the Federal Transit Administration's Urban Circulator Program. The remaining $163 million will fund 47 additional projects aimed at upgrading bus services and facilities from the FTA's Bus and Bus Livability Program.

Secretary Solis Views Green Innovation at Work: This week, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis traveled to Denver, Colorado to view the work of the Denver Green Jobs Initiative, which provides free green jobs training to the unemployed, underemployed, veterans, women, and minorities. The program’s goal is simple: create a career path to high-growth green industries to help hundred from the local community gain access to new work opportunities. The Department of Labor invested over $3.6 million in the program as part of their Pathways out of Poverty Initiative.


A Year of Progress for Urban Policy: Alaina Beverly, Associate Director for the White House Office of Urban Affairs, writes on the work of the Office of Urban Affairs and the progress made thus far. The office, charged with coordinating the development of a national urban policy agenda, has led the charge to break down funding silos and integrate federal agencies’ work. “We have begun changing the way in which the federal government invests in places,” Beverly writes.

Huffington Post: Reclaiming Open Spaces in Our Urban Landscape: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses the Obama Administration’s America's Great Outdoors Initiative and how his city is working with the federal government to reconnect citizens with their natural surroundings. “Together, we can leverage our energy, vision, and resources to create a new urban paradigm that celebrates our natural resources, improves our quality of life, and yields limitless potential for smart, sustainable growth.”

Sustainable Communities: Leaders of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, a collaborative effort between DOT, HUD, and EPA, penned a piece this week that highlights their work to coordinate federal programs, protect public health and the environment, promote equitable development, and help address the challenges of climate change. The partnership is an example of agency collaboration focused on creating more comprehensive and collaborative federal policies. This piece is an introduction to the partnership’s work, which will be further discussed in a live chat Thursday, July 15th.

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 that will be published this summer. The guidance offers advance details regarding the application process to compete for funds through this pilot program. 

Livability Funding Opportunity from the Federal Transit Authority, Deadline July 12th: The Federal Transit Administration provides 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 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 DOT, HUD, and the EPA that encourage smart growth practices.

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application July 16th): 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.

Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23 (Pre-Application July 21st): The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development have joined together to award up to $75 million in funding–$35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants–for localized planning activities that ultimately lead to projects that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development.

HUD Sustainable Regional Planning Grant, Deadline August 23: The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for their $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. The program is designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. The grant is part of the DOT, HUD, EPA partnership.

EDA Innovation in Economic Development Competition, Deadline August 27: The Economic Development Administration announced funding for projects that advance innovation, boost competitiveness, and create jobs. Grants will be given to innovations in commercialization, regional innovation clusters, global export promotion, and green technology.

Upcoming Events

July 11th
Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council and Advisor to the President on Domestic Policy, will be the keynote speaker at the Women in the NAACP Luncheon, part of the NAACP's 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, MO. The luncheon focuses on building a foundation for women and children through education.

July 12th
First Lady Michelle Obama will speak at the NAACP's 101st Annual Convention on Monday on steps to combat childhood obesity and her efforts to create a healthier generation of kids through the Let's Move! Campaign.

Bessy Kong, Domestic Policy Council Urban Policy Office, will speak Monday at a workshop hosted by Building Changes, a nonprofit that uses public-private partnerships to find innovative solutions to end homelessness through grant-making, advocacy and expert advice.

July 13th
Derek Douglass, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, will participate in a panel on Health and Community Development at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Healthy Communities Conference on Tuesday.

July 15th
Thursday, leaders of the Sustainable Communities Partnership from the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency will discuss their work in a live chat. Watch online at Submit questions here.