Budget Director Previews Fiscal 2017 Proposals in Baltimore

OMB Director Shaun Donovan is trying to gather momentum for the new initiatives. OMB Director Shaun Donovan is trying to gather momentum for the new initiatives. Susan Walsh/AP

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on Wednesday traveled to Baltimore to help gain momentum for ideas in President Obama’s State of the Union address, unveiling several anti-poverty initiatives slated for next month’s fiscal 2017 budget submission.

“Today’s announcements build upon the work this administration has undertaken in the past to improve the lives of the American people,” the White House wrote in a fact sheet. Three previously unannounced initiatives were then linked to previous broader efforts in ending veterans homelessness, improving educational outcomes, making college more affordable, expanding community opportunities for young people, raising workforce skills, connecting more Americans with pathways to the middle class and strengthening communities through federal partnership.

The three new proposals being prepared for the February budget release are:

  • Increase Access to Neighborhoods of High Opportunity. This $15 million mobility counseling pilot would help families that receive housing assistance through the Housing and Urban Development Department move to, and stay in, safer neighborhoods with stronger schools and better access to jobs. Investments would be distributed to about 10 regional housing program sites with participating Public Housing Authorities and/or private non-profits over a three-year period, according to the fact sheet. A portion of the funding will also support an evaluation to measure the impact of the counseling pilot to inform future policymaking and program design;
  • Help Families in Crisis Gain Stability and Move to Self-Sufficiency. To help stabilize families in crisis and position them to move toward self-sufficiency, a new $2 billion initiative Emergency Aid and Service Connection Grants would test innovative state and local approaches to aid families facing financial crisis. “This includes financially stressed families who have been brought to the brink of crisis, for example by a temporary illness or the need to repair the family car that gets a parent to work,” the fact sheet said. “And it includes families that have already hit bottom, living in extreme poverty.” The funding would help needy families connect to longer term supports, such as income assistance, job training, child care, and mental health and substance abuse treatment;
  • Advance Proven Community-based Initiatives to Improve Educational and Employment Outcomes. A $128 million Education Department Promise Neighborhoods program would combine with a $200 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods program to help improve the educational and life outcomes of residents of distressed communities. Next year’s funding would support about 15 new Promise Neighborhoods and six new Choice Neighborhoods implementation grants among others. Such programs have already helped residents in over 100 distressed communities, the fact sheet said.

“From the start,” the White House said, “the president has been committed to making the critical investments needed to accelerate and sustain economic growth in the long run and to an economy that rewards hard work, generates rising incomes and allows everyone to share in the prosperity of a growing America.”

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