Restoring Prosperity News
The President-elect’s transition co-chair, Valerie Jarrett, has confirmed the new administration’s commitment to creating an Office of Urban Policy, designed to coordinate the federal government’s policies affecting U.S. cities. Obama had originally announced his plans for the new office on the campaign trail in June before the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Additionally, President-elect Obama has promised to take other measures to assist U.S. cities, including increasing Community Development Block Grant funds. The new administration has not yet selected a Chief of Urban Policy, but the mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, has indicated that he is under consideration for the post.
New York’s Department of State announced on November 17th a new Brownfields Smart Growth Spotlight Communities initiative, designed to link communities currently enrolled in the state’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas program with the Governor’s Smart Growth cabinet resources in order to promote economic revitalization as well as environmental protection of troubled areas. By integrating the Smart Growth cabinet with these existing programs, the state hopes to reinforce its existing commitment to sustainable smart growth and redevelopment. For more information, see the New York Department of State’s website.
In late October, the New Jersey Assembly approved legislation (A.3101) that would allow individual counties in the state to create their own Homelessness Trust Funds with dedicated state funding. These funds would provide qualifying community organizations and county programs with additional capital for homelessness prevention and affordable housing projects. The bill sets targets for reductions in homelessness and timetables for drawing up county and state strategic plans. For more information on the New Jersey Homeless Trust Fund bill and similar programs, visit the Ending Homelessness in New Jersey website.
Ohio’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, part of a larger economic stimulus plan implemented in June, provides incentives for property owners to rehabilitate historic buildings. The owners receive tax credit awards for 25 percent of all expenditures that qualify as part of the renovation process. The Lieutenant Governor’s office recently announced 48 tax credit awards for 2010 in an October press release. To learn more about passing this type of legislation in your state, see the Restoring Prosperity policy package on state Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Also, for more information on this and other Ohio-related developments, visit the website of our campaign partner, Greater Ohio.
The Pennsylvania state legislature has approved a bill designed to give communities greater power to bring abandoned properties in line with community codes and standards. The Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act (House Bill 2188) would allow courts to appoint conservators with the power to rehabilitate and restore qualifying blighted properties–those that have been abandoned, are in violation of community codes, and have not been on the market for a specified time period, among other requirements. Ordinarily, communities would have to track down the owner of a neglected property and administer a court order in order to enforce community codes, a process that can be difficult to complete. The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania worked for the act’s passage and has more information on its website. The bill awaits final approval from Governor Ed Rendell before becoming law.