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7/30/10 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 Discusses Education, Challenging the Status Quo at National Urban League: President Obama discussed his education agenda and Race to the Top initiative this week at the National Urban League Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C. The President stated that education reform is a top priority for his Administration because the “status quo is morally inexcusable, it’s economically indefensible, and all of us are going to have to roll up our sleeves to change it.”

In Detroit, President Obama Promises to Fight for American Workers: Friday, President Obama journeyed to Michigan to meet with workers and tour facilities of Chrysler and General Motors automobile plants. Speaking to workers at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant, the President had a message for critics of the auto industry bailout: “Don't bet against the American worker.  Don't bet against the American people.  We got more work to do.  It’s going to take some time to get back to where we need to be, but I have confidence in the American worker.” The President’s visit comes after the White House released a report earlier this week cataloguing signs of recovery for the auto industry. The report shows that in the year since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, employment in the auto industry has increased by 55,000 jobs, marking the fastest year-over-year growth in auto employment since 1999.

President Obama Talks Small Business Support with Business Owners in New Jersey: The President met with small business owners in Edison, New Jersey to discuss the economy and urge Congress to pass support for small businesses. Following the meeting, the President delivered remarks on cooperation between political parties and legislation that supports small businesses currently in front of Congress and the Senate. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation. They are going to lead this recovery. The folks standing beside me are going to lead this recovery,” he said.

Administration Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Monday the White House and Administration Officials marked the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark law that broadly defends the rights of those with disabilities. As part of the celebration President Obama signed an Executive Order that will make the government a model employer for people with disabilities. Meanwhile the Department of Justice issued new rules that will increase accessibility for people with disabilities to businesses, recreational facilities, and websites. “Equal access. Equal opportunity. The freedom to make our lives what we will.  These aren’t principles that belong to any one group or any one political party.  They are common principles… These are the principles we cherish as citizens of the United States of America.”

Administration Launches Home Affordability Campaign to Inform Homeowners: The Advertising Council, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, launched a campaign this week that encourages homeowners struggling with their monthly mortgage payments to learn about the Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program. The program aims to stabilize the housing market and help struggling homeowners get relief and avoid foreclosure by providing them with the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable. The new advertising campaign will direct homeowners to free resources made available by the Federal Government that helps them understand their options to avoid foreclosure. Over 1.5 million homeowners have already received assistance from the program.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Speaks on Jobs, Recovery at Ohio State Fair: This week, U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari spoke on American job growth and the Recovery Act at the opening of the Ohio State Fair. Speaking just a few miles from the site where President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood broke ground on the Recovery Act's 10,000th road project, Porcari discussed Recovery investments in Ohio which add up to more than $1.1 billion for 470 road, bridge, transit and airport projects that will move people and goods across the state more safely and efficiently These and other Recovery Act investments have saved or created over 117,000 jobs in Ohio, a story true in other states across the country.


Urban Policy Director Speaks on Administration’s New Foundation: Speaking to the National Urban League this week, Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Policy, discussed how President Obama’s efforts to build a new economic foundation for all Americans will also shape what Black America will look like by 2025. “The President appreciated early on that to build a brighter future for America the foundation had to be strengthened.  No longer could we have a society where economic security, access to quality health care, a solid education, and the right to live the American Dream are limited to a chosen few.”

ICMA Report: Adapting Smart Growth Strategies to Rural Communities: The International City/County Management Association recently released a report that examines the challenges facing rural communities and focuses on smart growth strategies that can help guide new growth in rural areas. The report acknowledges the effects of declining rural populations and loss of working lands and proposes support for the rural landscape, existing built assets and investments, and the development of new, vibrant and sustainable area.

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. 

Tiger II Discretionary Grants Program, Deadline 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.

Sustainable Communities Grants, Deadline August 23: 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

August 5th
President Obama will visit a Ford auto manufacturing plant in Chicago, IL.