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Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative

WH Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Live Chat

On Tuesday, September 28 at 3:00 p.m. EDT, "the White House Office of Urban Affairs is hosting a live chat on the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to support the transformation of distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods of opportunity." For more information, see this posting on the White House Office of Urban Affairs web site.

If you have questions about the future of the initiative and how it fits with your plans, this is your best bet (besides reading our blog, of course!)

Update: Below is the full video from Tuesday's discussion.

White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Details Revealed

Little noticed in today's big announcement on Promise Neighborhoods was a rather detailed new fact sheet on the administration's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI).

According to the fact sheet, the initiative is "led by the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC), White House Office of Urban Affairs (WHOUA), and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Treasury."

We have written about this initiative before many times, though there was a lot of tea leaf reading involved. Now we have lots of details. Incidentally, I got to meet a few of the principals in this group at the event today. I kind of feel like I deserve honorary membership! Although I am a little nervous about the ritual hazing -- I have a feeling it involves long meetings and a tolerance for bureaucracy.

Some interesting new details in the fact sheet include a new, fifth program in the neighborhood initiatives bucket. We have Promise and Choice, of course, and also the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant program in DOJ (we interviewed Thomas Abt on this recently). We also have two programs out of HHS, including Community Health Centers and a brand new one, Behavioral Health Services.

The NRI plans to host a convening on neighborhood revitalization in 2011 "to unite practitioners and policymakers in a shared effort to improve our nation’s distressed communities."  Very cool.

The last three pages explain plans for how the first three (Promise, Choice, and Byrne) will interact with each other, which to me is required reading for today's Promise grantees but also anyone who wants to apply for any of these programs in the future.

White House Neighborhood Working Group Emerges (Sort of)

Some leading lights in the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Working Group wrote a blog post on the White House Office of Urban Affairs web site yesterday. We have written previously about this working group, but they have largely remained in the shadows until now.

The working group includes the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Treasury.

According to the blog post:

This group is integrating housing, education, justice and health programs with the overarching goal of transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity – neighborhoods that provide the opportunities, resources, and environment for children, youth, and adults to maximize their life outcomes.

The Working Group is pursuing a new approach to Federal engagement with neighborhoods of concentrated poverty that is more interdisciplinary, coordinated, place-based, data- and results-driven, and flexible.

The authors described four programs currently on their radar:

(1) Choice Neighborhoods, a HUD program to transform distressed public and assisted housing into sustainable mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long-term;

(2) Promise Neighborhoods, an ED program that creates a comprehensive continuum of academic programs and family and community supports, with great schools at the center, that will significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children in the nation’s most distressed communities;

(3) Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, a DOJ program with a community-based strategy that aims to control and prevent violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in designated high crime neighborhoods across the country;

(4) Community Health Centers, an HHS program that has for more than four decades provided comprehensive high-quality preventive and primary health care to America’s most medically underserved communities.

We need to learn more about those last two and I guess this is our cue to start.

One of the three blog post authors, Mr. Larkin Tackett (Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods), is partly notable because I will never let him live down his use of a dancing metaphor during the popular DOE webinars. Of course, there are worse things than being associated with a classic Motown tune.

The other two authors are less well known to us (well, okay, less well known to me).

  • Thomas Abt, Chief of Staff to the Office of Justice Programs at Justice
  • Luke Tate, Special Assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Presumably there is a fourth agency person with the HHS Community Health Centers. To the extent they choose to make themselves public figures, we will proceed to make them famous in our little world, at least to the best of our ability.

Hmmm. I think they may be hiding. I wonder why? (grin)

White House Announces Second Annual Place-based Budget Review

The White House released more budget guidance in a memo to federal agencies on June 21 that underlined its continued commitment to place-based policies. The news was announced by Derek Douglas on June 30 on the White House Office of Urban Affairs blog. Douglas serves on both the staff of that office and on the Domestic Policy Council staff, where he leads the DPC’s work on urban and metropolitan policy issues.

The memo is similar to one released a year ago and expands on a third memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget released on June 8. Most of the latest memo focuses on the role of place-based policies in economic growth, including the Sustainable Communities Initiative. We haven't given much attention to those policies because of our focus on neighborhoods, but clearly the administration views them as all fitting together.

As we have noted before, in tight budgetary times the future of place-based programs will be based on reconfiguring existing federal programs. More evidence for that can be found in the following section of the latest memo, which directs agencies to look for programs that don't work and those that do, presumably in an effort to shift funding around.

Please include the following as a separate section in your FY 2012 budget submission, due to OMB on September 13, 2010:

  • Identify the place-based programs or initiatives that you believe show special promise for achieving better outcomes, whether the place-based approach is well-established or newly proposed. In so doing, please give special emphasis to programs that promote economic growth. These policies should be within OMB Guidance (M-10-19) and cost effective. For each, please explain the policy’s measurable outcomes, using empirical evidence to the degree possible. In addition, please provide options for improving the intra- or inter-agency coordination and effectiveness of the proposed policy.
  • Identify the existing place-based programs or policies within OMB Guidance (M-10-19) that are not cost effective and that you would propose to reduce, terminate, or significantly restructure due to inefficiencies or ineffectiveness. Please explain why you have reached this determination, using empirical evidence to the degree possible.

This guidance will be discussed in meetings with agencies that OMB and DPC will schedule this summer. Agencies are also encouraged to work with their OMB RMO and their policy council contacts to identify candidate programs. OMB will weigh these questions throughout the process of policy development for the President’s FY 2012 Budget.


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by Dr. Radut