FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG OUTLINES PROPOSAL FOR A FEDERAL URBAN INNOVATION FUND TO FIGHT POVERTY
Builds on Success of New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today outlined details for a proposed $5 billion urban innovation fund, overseen by the White House, to fight poverty in large metropolitan areas. The fund would draw on the success of New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), which Mayor Bloomberg created in December 2006 to implement an ambitious anti-poverty strategy. Since then, CEO has launched a range of new anti-poverty programs, policy proposals and research projects which represent nationwide best practices and cutting-edge ideas that can make an impact where traditional methods have failed. The Innovation Fund is just one component of the Federal Economic Recovery Bill the Mayor recently proposed, outlining priorities for New York City. The Mayor made the announcement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C.
"Poverty is one of the most complicated and troubling challenges every mayor in America faces," said Mayor Bloomberg. "New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity is prepared to share results and lessons learned from our work, including on the alternative to the Federal poverty measure that we developed. And we look forward to learning from successful programs in other cities. We can and must do more to think innovatively, gather important data and try new things, and an urban innovation fund would be a smart and practical step in the right direction."
"Our goal in New York City is to help families lift - and keep - themselves out of poverty," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. "We've shown over the past two years through new initiatives that we can move parents into stable careers and families out of poverty, help young people get their GEDs and engage at-risk youth in community service. Our lessons learned are more important than ever as we face a recession."
"The Center for Economic Opportunity has become a nationally recognized research and development laboratory for testing new antipoverty strategies," said CEO Executive Director Veronica M. White. "By creating a fund like this, the federal government can help provide immediate relief for those in poverty while building a data-driven foundation for the next generation of anti-poverty policies."
Mayor Bloomberg suggested that all initiatives supported by the Fund should be implemented quickly, be accompanied by a plan for evaluation, and be complementary to other new Federal aid. Drawing from CEO's experience designing dozens of ground-breaking anti-poverty initiatives, the Mayor proposed five key areas of focus:
Work opportunities for high-need populations.
Enhanced youth employment.
Improved school to work linkages.
Community service initiatives.
Incentives to work.
In addition to distributing grants, the Fund would manage a national plan to revise the official poverty measure. An accurate measure will allow for evaluation of the impact of the government's new investments.
During the Mayor's State of the City speech last week, he identified several new anti-poverty initiatives that could be supported by federal funds which encourage work. First, he proposed a pilot program that offers jobs to struggling students - on the condition that they stay in school. Second, he spoke about the "Jobs Plus" initiative, a successful model piloted in other cities, which will provide place-based employment assistance and training referrals to public housing residents while limiting rent increases as their earnings grow. The Mayor also called for a pilot to expand the popular and successful Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in New York City. This would substantially increase the amount of money that low-wage single adults and non-custodial parents can receive in tax credits.
Stu Loeser /Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958