15 July 2009

Obama on cities

The first year of most new administrations is a time of jockeying and reading tea leaves, trying to guess where policy and funding changes will occur. On Monday President Obama framed a new vision for American cities, and you can be sure that plenty of analysts were parsing it yesterday for clues and insight.

It would require "new strategies for our cities and metropolitan areas that focus on advancing opportunity through competitive, sustainable, and inclusive growth."

He did identify two specific program areas, Promise Neighborhoods and Choice Neighborhoods:
Now, we began to do just that with my budget proposal, which included two investments in innovative and proven strategies. I just want to mention these briefly. The first, Promise Neighborhoods, is modeled on Geoffrey Canada's successful Harlem Children's Zone. It's an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck effort that's turning around the lives of New York City's children, block by block. And what we want to do is to make grants available for communities in other cities to jumpstart their own neighborhood-level interventions that change the odds for our kids.
The second proposal we call Choice Neighborhoods -- focuses on new ideas for housing in our cities by recognizing that different communities need different solutions. So instead of isolated and monolithic public housing projects that too often trap residents in a cycle of poverty and isolate them further, we want to invest in proven strategies that actually transform communities and enhance opportunity for residents and businesses alike.
Can you imagine one or two of these around you? Let's assume that planners all over are already highlighting areas on their digital maps and checking the data to prove it. And leave it to the Chicagoan to sneak in a little Dan Burnham.

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