President Obama is committed to supporting American communities, helping them become more competitive, sustainable and inclusive and improving the quality of life for all citizens. But he also knows that every neighborhood, town, city and suburb is unique, and has its own vision for growth and development. That’s why the Obama Administration is working every day to find new ways to make our communities stronger by ensuring that the federal government is addressing real needs and supporting communities from the bottom up. As part of that effort, the Administration is proud that two new capacity-building grants have been announced – grants from the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities that will support neighborhoods to develop and execute on their visions for growth and ensure that investments in the community are made strategically to maximize impact.
Many communities around the country have already been touched by the important efforts of the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), a White House led partnership among the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Treasury. NRI supports the transformation of distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods of opportunity where children can get a good education, adults can get good jobs, and families have access to decent quality housing, transportation, safe streets and clean air and water. To continue this important work, the White House is excited to report that the Department of Justice recently announced that the new Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) is now accepting grant applications for its principal Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator (TTA Coordinator). The BNCP focuses on the nation’s neediest neighborhoods, those that struggle with such issues as crime, poor health, struggling schools, inadequate housing, and access to employment, and seeks to assist them in comprehensive planning and development activities that will develop neighborhood capacity to begin and sustain the long-term process of rebuilding and revitalization.
The Building Neighborhood Capacity Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator (pdf) program is being jointly funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Education. Through the BNCP, five neighborhoods will be competitively selected by the TTA Coordinator, in consultation with the federal partners, and offered a range of training and technical assistance (TTA) to help them begin or sustain the process of revitalization, guided by comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans, in concert with relevant local and state plans and planning processes.
Similarly, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC) – a collaboration between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency that works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution – has recognized the critical need among communities for greater support toward building capacity in order to meet their sustainability and livability. To respond to this need, HUD and EPA recently announced a $5.65 million competitive program aimed at strengthening the capacity of existing grantees from each agency to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods for American families. Through this program, the Partnership will identify and work with intermediaries to foster a national coalition and leadership network of the Sustainable Communities Grantees to facilitate the exchange of successful strategies, lessons learned, emerging tools and public engagement strategies, and approaches for avoiding or minimizing pitfalls, all with an eye towards improving the quality of life in the communities in which we live. You can get more information and apply for funding.
President Obama believes that the role of the federal government is to support American communities with innovative, direct, bottom-up support. These two new grant programs introduced by the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities are another important effort by the Administration to meet this objective by investing in American places, helping build new foundations for growth and improve the quality of life for American citizens.
Derek Douglas is Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council.