Spotlight Exclusives

President۪s New Budget and Poverty

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Well, hot off the presses from the Office of Management and Budget is the President۪s 2010 budget and it features both major funding increases to numerous poverty and economic opportunity and launches new initiatives to tackle these issues. We۪re sure there is more, but here are some of the issues at which OOTS readers may want to take a careful look.

Improving access to economic opportunity in America is the focus of several “Key Issue” fact sheets, including:

· Giving Every Child a World Class Education, which includes over $400 million in new funds for early childhood education and $10 million in competitive grants to model Harlem Children۪s Zones (an idea developed by Spotlight Advisory Board member Geoffrey Canada) through “Promise Neighborhoods”

· New Hope, New Jobs, New Opportunities for Our Cities, which provides $4.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, $250 million for a new Choice Neighborhoods program, adds $1 billion to the Housing Trust Fund, increases funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, and devotes $50 million to non-profits that target low-income Americans through the Strengthening Communities Fund

· Opening the Doors of College and Opportunity, which increases Pell Grants and allocates $2.5 billion over five years to improve college completion, especially among disadvantaged students

· Standing with Rural America, which includes $61 million for rural economic development and $70 million for economic revitalization and education

Other important highlights not mentioned in the fact sheets (by agency):

Department of Agriculture

The budget increases funding for nutrition assistance in order to reach the President۪s goal of ending child hunger in America by 2015. It adds $1 billion annually to Child Nutrition, provides a temporary increase in Food Stamps (SNAP), initiates a Food Stamps pilot program to improve participation by seniors, and fully funds the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

Department of Commerce

The budget launches a new $50 million program to establish a public-private business incubator for economically distressed areas.

Department of Health and Human Services

In addition to the investments in early childhood programs, the budget adds $2 billion to the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $8.5 billion over ten years for home-visitation for low-income families. It also adds $3.2 billion to the Low-Income Home Energy Heating Assistance Program and reforms the program to increase assistance during energy price spikes.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Beyond funding the Housing Trust Fund and investing in community development, the budget also adds money to the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and the Project-Based Rental Assistance Program.

Department of the Interior

The budget increases funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs by $161 million, some of which will go to education and other priorities for this disproportionately high-poverty population.

Department of Justice

Although the Department of Justice budget is not a traditional area of focus for poverty advocates, the President۪s budget adds $114 million to prisoner reentry programs and $75 million to expand the Second Chance Act, which helps former prisoners transition into civilian life.

Department of Labor

The budget adds funding for various programs that assist with career pathways and transitional employment for low-income Americans. It also helps low- to moderate-income families build assets by reforming the Saver۪s Credit to provide a 50 percent match on the first $1,000 in savings for families that earn less than $65,000. Finally, it reforms unemployment insurance to reduce delays and improve efficiency.

Department of the Treasury

The Department of Treasury focuses most of its budget on economy-wide stability measures, but it also doubles funding for community lending, as detailed above (“New Hope, New Jobs, New Opportunities for Our Cities”).

Department of Veterans Affairs

The new budget addresses the problem of homelessness among veterans by launching a collaborative effort between public agencies and non-profits to provide housing to at-risk veterans.

There۪s a lot to chew on here, and more that we haven۪t mentioned, we look forward to hearing more from readers and budgeters.

Posted by Mike


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