Urban Policy


The President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs.

The American Jobs Act would rebuild the economy the American way-- based on balance, fairness and the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street. In urban communities, the American Jobs Act would modernize public schools, invest in roads and bridges, cut payroll taxes for every American worker and more.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included broad support for urban communities.

  • To broaden access to affordable housing, the Act provides for $1 billion in increased funding for the Community Development Block Grant; $4 billion in increased public housing capital funds; $2 billion in payments to owners of project based rental assistance properties to keep them affordable; $2 billion in Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to purchase and rehabilitate forclosed homes; and $1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes;
  • To expand educational opportunity for low-income students, the Act provides for $13 billion in Title I funds to go to K-12 education in disadvantaged school systems;
  • To strengthen workforce development, the Act provides $3.95 billion in increased workforce investment training dollars to keep our workers skilled and to employ young people during the summer;
  • To improve energy efficiency, the Act increases the Weatherization Assistance Program by $5 billion, helping low income consumers save on their energy bills while simultaneously training more workers for a growing field;
  • To bolster our nation’s transportation infrastructure, the Act provides $1.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Transportation to fund projects of regional or national significance as well as $8 billion to jumpstart high speed rail and connect regions to one another; and,
  • The Act also provides $4.7 billion to provide broadband access to underserved areas.

Guiding Principles

President Obama’s urban policy agenda is grounded in the recognition that our nation’s cities and metropolitan areas are vital engines for economic growth, innovation, and opportunity. To maximize economic productivity and opportunity in a 21st Century economy, federal policy must reflect the new metropolitan reality—that strong cities are the building blocks of strong regions, which in turn, are essential for a strong America.

Break Through Traditional Barriers

President Obama believes that the federal government must break from the siloed approach to urban policy development – where each facet of policy operates independently from all others - and replace it with an interdisciplinary approach that appreciates the interdependent nature of issues affecting urban communities. The President’s urban agenda will promote cross-cutting plans to revitalize urban areas, considering housing, transportation, energy, labor, education, and criminal justice policy as a system rather than independent of each other.

Take a Regional Approach

President Obama will also take a regional approach that disregards traditional jurisdictional boundaries, setting policy that takes into account how cities, suburbs, and exurbs interact. President Obama’s urban policy agenda will use this integrated approach to enhance economic competitiveness, sustainability, and equity in our cities and metropolitan areas.

Promote Inclusive Growth

President Obama believes that for our nation to thrive, the federal government must make and promote coordinated and strategic investments in our regions, cities, and neighborhoods that result in inclusive economic growth. The President’s urban policies will therefore seek to avoid creating winners and losers from his urban agenda, but rather will aim to lift up and revitalize urban areas holistically and invest in community development.