Tuesday, October 18, 2011

White House Releases "Creating Pathways to Opportunity" Report

Last week, The White House released “Creating Pathways to Opportunity” – a report highlighting the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand and create economic stability and security for all citizens, particularly those that have faced immense struggle in the wake of the economic recession. Drastic decreases in median family income throughout the past decade, combined with high unemployment as a result of the recession, forced 2.6 million Americans into poverty between 2009 and 2010, leaving the United States with the highest number of people in poverty rate in ever recorded. In response, this report highlights the Obama Administration’s comprehensive set of initiatives and programs aimed at addressing the needs of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens and communities.

The report devotes particular attention to low-income communities, stating that more than 10 million Americans now live in communities of concentrated poverty, with poverty levels at 40% and higher. The report captures the Obama Administration’s set of interconnected solutions, such as the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, that aim to revitalize and strengthen low-income communities by addressing all facets of community life, including: education, transportation, affordable housing and resident health. With over $126 million invested in the Choice Neighborhoods program and over $40 million invested in Promise Neighborhoods, the Obama Administration intends to continue utilizing place-based strategies that transform distressed communities into communities of opportunity.

In addition to these large place-based strategies, the report highlights specific initiatives that can help communities build several capacities needed to address resident needs, including:
  • Project Rebuild: As part of the American Jobs Act, President Obama has proposed that $15 billion be used to help local governments purchase and rebuild foreclosed homes, which will help stimulate job growth and revitalize distressed communities.
  • Healthy Food Financing Initiative: The Obama Administration estimates that more than 1500 stores will be built or expanded over the next five years to help eliminate “food desserts” and increase access to healthy foods in communities that lack quality options.

Other Initiatives the report highlights include:

  • $180 million in programs focused on preventing teen pregnancy and the associated risk factors.
  • 11 billion in funding to support health centers, which ensures provides new jobs for residents and ensures that communities have access to a medical home.
  • More than $8 billion to increase Internet access across the country, allowing residents to more easily access critical information.
  • The expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which kept more than 3.9 million individuals above the poverty line in 2010.

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