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WH Office of Urban Affairs

White House Hosts Forum on Urban Innovation

Earlier this week the White House opened its doors to community leaders from across the country for a Forum on Urban Innovation. The event brought Obama Administration officials together with an invited group of innovators to share best practices, talk through some of the challenges in the field, and discuss how the federal government can better support community-based efforts. The event also featured panels showcasing several successful local efforts, including the following:

  • Neighborhood Centers, Inc., an UNCA member that was awarded a planning grant from the Department of Education for Houston’s Gulfton Promise Neighborhood.
  • The City of Hartford, whose mayor presented on Opportunities Hartford, a citywide effort to expand existing educational, job and income opportunities in the city.
  • Venture Philanthropy Partners, a DC-based philanthropic investment organization whose YouthCONNECT resource on disconnected youth received a Social Innovation Fund grant.
  • IBM, whose Smarter Cities Initiative provides participating municipalities with a team of fellows to help tackle unique urban challenges.
  • The City of New York, where the Mayor’s Office has created a digital roadmap to connect jobseekers with employment.
  • McCormack Baron Salazar, an urban real estate development firm working as part of a HOPE SF, a Choice Neighborhoods implementation site in San Francisco.
  • The City of Pittsburgh, which is celebrating its “Third Renaissance” as it has diversified its economy with burgeoning employment fields and comprehensive community development efforts.
  • 100,000 Homes, a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families.
  • The Jacobs Family Foundation, which showcased Market Creek Plaza, its community-owned commercial development in San Diego that utilized a community development IPO.

Participants had the opportunity to engage with other community-based practitioners and share candid feedback with Administration officials on a variety of key issues. Overall, the summit highlighted promising practices and saw a robust discussion of targeted solutions working on the neighborhood level. As attendees were encouraged to spread the word and engage in conversation online, talking points and follow up can be found on Twitter at #WHInnovation.

$30 Million for Promise Neighborhoods

Details of the budget deal just struck in Congress for the rest of the year are now trickling out. The measure includes $30 million for Promise Neighborhoods, an amount available through December 31, 2011. This would appear to provide enough funds for implementation grants and a second round of planning grants later this year. The official grant notice was expected within 60 days, though this timeline might conceivably be adjusted.

No further negotiating is expected. This is expected to be the final number for the year. Congress is expected to enact the underlying bill, HR 1473, by the end of this week.

My best guess is that the $30 million will include $10 million for another round of about 20 planning grants, $18 million or so for six 3-year implementation grants worth $3 million each, and about $2 million for technical assistance and the national program evaluation. That's complete speculation based on what was in the budget justifications earlier this year. We'll see.

It is not yet clear what the status is for Choice Neighborhoods and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. HOPE VI was cut from $200 million to $100 million. The Weed and Seed program at DOJ, which was to be replaced by Byrne, was eliminated.

The position of urban affairs policy czar at the White House Office of Urban Affairs was eliminated. It has been vacant since Adolfo Carrion left for a position at HUD last year.

Postscript: Stay tuned for additional announcements on the NRI Conference in Washington DC, July 21-22.

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)

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by Dr. Radut