ICIC Summit Live: Why we should love HUD's "Project Rebuild"

One of the main reasons we’re here at “Urban 2.0” is to discuss ways that cities can leverage their preexisting urban assets in order to promote job growth and inner city economic prosperity. Certainly, there’s much we can do at the local level: we can reuse our industrial land, we can try to leverage community-based capital, and we can support the emerging food cluster.

However, cities shouldn’t have to do everything on their own. Many of the economic issues our nation currently faces are systemic problems that cannot be addressed solely at the local level.  

This is why programs at the federal level are so important in providing a jolt to our urban economies.

At the ICIC Summit, Ms. Valerie Piper joins us to explain what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is doing to help our cities.

Inner cities, she explains, are riddled with high unemployment rates. The federal government understands the importance in getting these residents back to work. To do so, President Obama has penned the American Jobs Act and is trying to implement “Project Rebuild.”

While many of us have heard about the American Jobs Act (which includes tax breaks and hiring incentives for companies to bring new members to their teams), fewer of us might be familiar with Project Rebuild.

Project Rebuild is essentially an extension of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) that was a part of the last federal stimulus. NSP put people to work by doing construction jobs like rebuilding our roads and bridges. In total, NSP is credited with creating 90k much-needed jobs during the heart of the recession.

Project Rebuild tries to more than double that number by creating 200k+ new jobs. It would connect people out who are out of work with jobs in construction. While NSP seemed to be focused on infrastructure, Project Rebuild carries a stronger focus on rehabilitating commercial and residential property in our nation’s hardest-hit neighborhoods – many of which are in our inner cities.

The program is designed to work with both for-profit and nonprofit partners; the goal is to build partnerships with the entities that have the most expertise in neighborhood revitalization and know how to leverage capital in the most effective ways. Project Rebuild would also help cities hold properties and land bank them for future redevelopment.

It was exciting to hear Ms. Piper talk about what seems to be an excellent program. Though it is not solely focused on our cities, this federal program would certainly direct substantial amounts of funding to our inner city, given that our inner cities have so many neighborhoods that were devastated by the recession.

While the rest of the Urban 2.0 conference will likely focus on things we can do at the local level, it should not go unnoticed that developments are happening at the federal level that, when combined with local strategies, will help to put residents back to work and help our inner cities thrive once again.

October 3rd, 2011


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