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Choice Neighborhoods

New HUD Report on Choice Neighborhoods

HUD has released the inaugural issue of a new journal, called Evidence Matters, which focuses on Choice Neighborhoods. Here is a direct link to the pdf. More later, when I have time to read it!

Obama Budget Proposes $150 Million for Promise, $250 Million for Choice Neighborhoods

President Obama's FY 2012 budget proposal was released this morning (February 14). The budget proposes $150 million for Promise Neighborhoods, $250 million for Choice Neighborhoods, and $30 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program for the federal fiscal year that begins October 1, 2011.

According to the documents: "The Budget reflects a strategy in which HUD, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies will work together, coinvesting, and pooling their expertise as part of a focused Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative."

We are still searching for any other relevant parts and will update the blog as we find them. For those who want more details, please be sure to tune into the February 15 Neighborhood Revitalization Budget Briefing, which will include speakers from the White House and departments.  (RSVPs required, please click the link for details).

Here is the relevant language from the budget:

Promise Neighborhoods: Invests $150 million in Promise Neighborhoods, to support effective community services, strong family supports, and rigorous comprehensive education reforms to improve the educational and life outcomes for children and youth in high-need communities.

Choice Neighborhoods: The Budget provides $250 million for the Choice Neighborhoods initiative to continue transformative investments in high-poverty neighborhoods where distressed HUD-assisted public and privately-owned housing is located. The Budget will reach five to seven neighborhoods with grants that primarily fund the preservation, rehabilitation and transformation of HUD-assisted public and privately-owned multifamily housing, and will also engage local governments, nonprofits, and for-profit developers in partnerships to improve surrounding communities.

This initiative is a central element of the Administration’s interagency, place-based strategy to support local communities in developing the tools they need to revitalize neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity. The Budget reflects a strategy in which HUD, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies will work together, coinvesting, and pooling their expertise as part of a focused Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

Byrne: The Budget provides $30 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which supports the Administration’s multiagency Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative by directing resources where they are needed in higher-risk neighborhoods, integrating public safety, housing services, and other investments.

Spending Deal Collapses, But Administration Remains Committed to Promise Neighborhoods

A compromise omnibus budget package that seemingly had enough support to ensure passage in the Senate was withdrawn late Thursday night (December 16) after several Republicans deserted under pressure from Tea Party activists. The draft bill would have provided $60 million for the Promise Neighborhoods program, $90 million for Choice Neighborhoods, and $30 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program.

Despite the setback, the Obama administration remains committed to its neighborhood agenda and is reviewing its options.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) thought he had the votes he needed as late as Thursday morning, but a barrage of attacks on the bill's $8 billion in earmarks caused several Republicans to withdraw their support. Congress is now expected to pass a continuing resolution that will fund most federal programs at their current levels until early March, when the newly elected Congress will make final decisions on the budget for the current fiscal year.

If the incoming Congress, which convenes in January, chooses to flat-fund existing programs, Promise Neighborhoods would receive $10 million for another round of planning grants and no implementation funds. Choice Neighborhoods would receive another $65 million.

The administration may have other options, however. It has always been the case that most funding for implementing local neighborhood initiatives would need to come from a variety of funding streams. The Obama administration will now need to redouble its efforts to find these sources of funding.

Moreover, the administration indicated last summer that it was looking at reconfiguring several programs as place-based programs as part of its next budget submission. That budget proposal is due out in February.

According to a statement released today (December 17) from Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, the office that oversees the Promise Neighborhoods program:

We are inspired by communities around the country who are committed to Promise Neighborhoods. Scores of organizations are preparing their needs assessments, developing data systems, and building cradle-to-career solutions with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty.  Communities are doing this important work regardless of the Federal budget situation because it’s the right strategy to dramatically improve educational outcomes in our toughest neighborhoods.

That said, we remain committed and are working tirelessly with Congress and our Federal agency and non-profit partners to provide the tools, resources, and incentives to support Promise Neighborhoods.

December 22 Update: Congress has passed a new continuing resolution that will fund federal programs at existing levels (with a few minor changes) until March 4, 2011.

HUD Posts Choice Neighborhoods Applicant List

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has posted the list of applicants for $65 million in Choice Neighborhoods funding.

There were 118 applications for an estimated 12-15 planning grants worth up to $250,000 each. There were 42 applications for an estimated 2-4 implementation grants worth up to $31 million each.

The two lists can be found here:

For regular updates on the Choice Neighborhoods program, send an email to me at plester(at)unca.org with “Choice Neighborhoods Email List” on the subject line.

$60 Million for Promise Neighborhoods in Senate Omnibus

The Senate on late Tuesday (December 14) released a draft omnibus appropriations bill that provides $60 million for Promise Neighborhoods. It also includes $90 million for Choice Neighborhoods and $30 million for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program.

Senate Democrats are currently working with several Senate Republicans to reach the 60 votes they need for Senate passage, reportedly including Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, George Voinovich of Ohio and Christopher Bond of Missouri. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said Tuesday that he believes he has the necessary 60 votes. Action on the Senate floor is expected between now and Saturday.

Several other Republicans are attacking the bill for containing a reported $8 billion in earmarks, including some requested by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has said he opposes the bill. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has indicated that he may force the entire 1,924-page bill to be read aloud on the floor of the Senate as a delaying tactic, which may force Congress to pass another temporary continuing resolution to keep the government open for a few additional days past Saturday.

Last week (December 8), the House of Representatives passed a full-year continuing resolution that flat-funded most programs at the previous year's levels. The Senate is expected to try to replace that bill with the omnibus and send it back to the House for final approval.

The Promise Neighborhoods funding would extend through two fiscal years, the current one and the next one, which ends September 30, 2012. The $60 million would presumably cover two additional years of planning grants at $10 million each, plus $40 million for implementation and technical assistance. Some Hill insiders had suggested that Promise Neighborhoods did not need implementation money for the current year since grantees will spend most of the year planning their proposals. As we have also previously noted, earlier this year the White House issued a wide directive to federal agencies, asking them to include additional neighborhood proposals in the next federal budget submission, expected in February. Much -- perhaps most -- of the implementation funding for neighborhood programs may come from these other sources, possibly through incentives.

Stay tuned ...

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by Dr. Radut