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11.12.2010 Urban Affairs Newsletter

A weekly look at recent news in urban policy from the Office of Urban Affairs

Top News

President Obama Pushes American Economic Competitiveness on Visit to India: As part of his trip through Asia, President Obama highlighted the relationship between America and India, the world’s two largest democracies, as one of the world’s fastest growing trade and investment relationships. As part of the National Export Initiative, President Obama noted that India is a key market for U.S. exports.  More than $14.9 billion in future trade was announced in conjunction with the President’s trip, totaling $9.5 billion in U.S. export content and supporting an estimated 53,670 U.S. jobs.  These cross-border collaborations, both public and private, underpin the expanding U.S.-India strategic partnership, contributing to economic growth and development in both countries.

Vice President Biden Announces Actions to Increase Energy Savings for Families: At a Middle Class Task Force event Vice President Biden announced a series of federal actions designed to lay the groundwork for a strong American home energy retrofit industry. These actions include a new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements and a new retrofit financing program called PowerSaver. “Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy,” said Vice President Biden. 

Secretary Shinseki Commemorates Veterans Day, Renews Commitment to Veterans: While honoring Veterans at Arlington National Cemetary this Thursday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki noted the significant investments in Veterans benefits and services over the past 19 months: a 16 percent VA budget increase last year and a 10 percent increase in the 2011 budget request.  He said this is making it possible to increase Veterans’ access to benefits, help end the disability claims backlog, and eliminate Veterans’ homelessness by 2015. Under Shinseki, VA is taking unprecedented steps to reach out to Veterans and their families with a television ad campaign, a new VA blog, and other social media initiatives, and outreach teams traveling throughout rural communities.  The goal is to let Veterans and their families know what services they are eligible for and how to access them.

Department of Education Releases Finalized Education Technology Plan: Secretary Arne Duncan today released the Department of Education's National Education Technology Plan for transforming American education through technology, a process to create an engaging state-of-the-art, cradle-to-college school system nationwide.  Improving technology is a crucial component of the Administration's effort to have America lead the world in college completion by 2020 and help close the achievement gap.

HHS and DOJ Team Up to Crack Down on Healthcare Fraud: Health and Human Services: (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and Attorney General Eric Holder visited Brooklyn, New York where they participated in the third regional health care fraud prevention summit. HHS introduced a new tool for medical students called A Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Abuse. The Affordable Care Act provided an additional $350 million for tools and resources to fight fraud over the next ten years. These investments in enforcement pay for themselves many times over. Since 2009, the Administration’s anti-fraud efforts put $2.51 billion back in the Medicare Trust Fund.

EPA Issues Guidance for State/Local Pollution Permitting:The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available guidance and tools to help state and local air permitting authorities identify cost-effective pollution reduction options for greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. In January 2011, industries that are large emitters of GHGs, and are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, will work with permitting authorities to identify and implement best practices to minimize their GHGs.

The Department of Labor Announces Awards for State Workforce Database: Secretary Solis announced $12.2 million to 13 states through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative. These funds will enable States to build or expand databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of employment and training programs to better inform workforce system customers. Over the three-year grant period, States will improve the analysis of education and training programs, but also  provide user-friendly information to help people select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.

Funding Opportunities 

Community Health Centers New Access Points Program: Deadline Nov. 17: The Department of Health and Human Service’s Health Resources and Services Administration seeks applicants for up to $250 million in competitive 2-year grants to support development of New Access Points, new full-time service community health delivery sites that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care services to improve health of, and decrease health disparities of, medically underserved and vulnerable populations. Organizations eligible to compete for the 350 awards include public or private non-profit entities, including tribal, faith-based and community-based organizations.

HUD Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Grants: Deadline Nov. 18: The Department of Housing and Urban Development made $1.68 million available through the CoC Homeless Assistance Programs, a set of three competitively-awarded programs created to address the problems of homelessness in a comprehensive manner with other federal agencies. CoC programs aim to reduce the incidence of homelessness in Continuum of Care communities by assisting homeless individuals and families move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Eligible services include transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and other services to help homeless persons transition from homelessness to living independently, programs providing rental assistance for homeless individuals with disabilities; and programs offering Section 8 rental assistance for moderate rehabilitation of buildings with single-room dwellings, designed for individual use.

Treasury Grants for Community Development Financial Institutions: Deadline Nov. 19: The Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) today announced grants providing up to $135 million in Financial and Technical Assistance awards. The awards will support Community Development Financial Institutions providing affordable financing and related services to low-income communities and populations that lack access to credit, capital and financial services.

HUD Hope VI Grants: Deadline Nov. 22: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking applicants for $124 million in grants to transform severely distressed public housing developments. Grant funds may be used for an array of activities, including: demolition of severely distressed public housing; acquisition of sites for off-site construction; capital costs of major rehabilitation, new construction and other physical improvements; and community and supportive service programs for residents, including those relocated as a result of revitalization efforts. It is anticipated that five to six grant awards will be made, with a maximum award of $22 million each. 

Labor Competition for YouthBuild grants: Deadline Dec. 3: The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced grants totaling $130 million for the YouthBuild program, an alternative education program that provides classroom instruction and construction skills training to at-risk individuals ages 16 to 24. Awards will be give to organizations that embody the YouthBuild model of balancing in school learning that leads to the achievement of a high school diploma or passing the General Education Development (GED) test, and construction skills training that prepares youth for career placement. YouthBuild grantees will tap the energies and talents of disadvantaged youth to increase the supply of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals and low-income families. 

Choice Neighborhood Planning and Implementation Grants: Deadline Dec 7th: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $65 million in competitive Choice Neighborhoods pilot grants for redevelopment of both public and other HUD-assisted housing properties. The program also widens the traditional pool of eligible applicants by allowing local governments, nonprofits and for-profit developers that submit joint applications with a public entity to apply. HUD anticipates funding 12-15 Planning Grants with a maximum award of $250,000 each and approximately 2-4 implementation grants at a maximum of $31 million each.

Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program: Deadline Jan 14: The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it is offering $35 million to public housing authorities to develop facilities that will provide early childhood and adult education, and/or job training programs for public housing residents. The maximum grant award for the Capitol Fund Education and Training Community Facilities Program (CFCF) is $5 million.