White House releases proposed budgetary impacts on black families

February 23, 2010 in News

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – With black unemployment rates still on the rise, President Barack Obama – through his 2011 budget proposal – is apparently trying to undergird the African-American community from other economic angles until change comes.

A White House document recently released to board members of the Black Leadership Forum outlines allocations in the president’s $301 billion fiscal budget that specifically “give African American families the tools that they need to succeed.”

The document, titled, “Expanding Opportunities for African-American Families” concedes that “the economy is back from the brink and is showing signs of health, but this positive news has barely been felt in the labor markets. While we are no longer hemorrhaging jobs at the rate we were last year, unemployment is still unacceptably high.”

The document, issued Feb. 5 from the White House Office of Public Engagement lists at least 30 specific areas aimed to boost the economy and quality of life for the disadvantaged, including African-Americans who, at 16.5 percent, have the highest unemployment rate of major racial groups in America.

“The President’s Budget takes the steps to help jumpstart job creation, works to strengthen the economic security of American families, and makes the tough choices to put our Nation back on the path to fiscal responsibility,” the document states. The following are nutshell descriptions of short-term programs and initiatives among the budget proposals, which have yet to be formulated into a bill to be approved by Congress:

– Spur Job Creation: “In addition, to help those most affected by the recession, the Budget will extend emergency assistance to seniors and families with children, Unemployment Insurance benefits, COBRA tax credits, and relief to states and localities to prevent layoffs.”

– Reforming the Job Training System: “The Budget calls for reform of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which supports almost 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers nationwide and a range of other services. With $6 billion for WIA at DOL—and an additional $4 billion in the Department of Education—the Budget calls for reforms to improve WIA.”

Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement: “To strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial,

ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination, the Budget includes an 11 percent increase in funding to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. This investment will help the Division handle implementation of a historic new hate crimes law. The Budget also provides an $18 million or 5 percent increase for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This increased investment will allow for more staff to reduce the backlog of private sector charges.”

– Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities: “The Budget proposes $642 million, an increase of $30 million over the 2010 level, to support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition to this discretionary funding increase for MSIs, the Administration supports legislation passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that would provide $2.55 billion in mandatory funding to MSIs over 10 years.”

– Help Families Struggling with Child Care Costs: “The Budget will nearly double the Child and

Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families making under $85,000 a year by increasing their

credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. Nearly all eligible families making under $115,000 a year would see a larger credit. The Budget also provides critical support for young children and their families by building on historic increases provided in ARRA. The Budget provides an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start to continue to serve 64,000 additional

children and families funded in ARRA.”

– Reform Elementary and Secondary School Funding: “The Budget supports the Administration’s new vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) … The Budget provides a $3 billion increase in funding for K-12 education programs authorized in the ESEA, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, and the Administration will request up to $1 billion in additional funding if Congress successfully completes ESEA reauthorization.”

– Increase Pell Grants: “The Recovery Act and 2009 appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The Budget proposes to make that increase permanent and put them on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000, expanding eligibility, and nearly doubling the total amount of Pell grants since the President took office.”

– Help Relieve Student Loan Debt: “To help graduates overburdened with student

loan debt, the Administration will strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans by

reducing monthly payments and shortening the repayment period so that overburdened borrowers will

pay only 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan repayments and can have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years. Those in public service careers will have their debt forgiven after 10 years. The Budget also expands low-cost Perkins student loans.”

– Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition: “The President’s Budget provides $8.1 billion for discretionary nutrition program supports, which is a $400 million increase over the 2010 enacted level. Funding supports 10 million participants in the WIC program, which is critical to the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. The Budget also supports a strong Child Nutrition and WIC reauthorization package that will ensure that school children have access to healthy meals and to help fulfill the President’s pledge to end childhood hunger. The President continues to support the nutrition provisions incorporated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).”

– Revitalize Distressed Urban Neighborhoods: “The Budget includes $250 million for HUD’s Choice

Neighborhoods program, which will target neighborhoods anchored by distressed public or assisted

housing with physical and social revitalization grounded in promising, measurable, and evidence-based strategies.”

– Increase Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program: “The President’s Budget requests $19.6

billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to help more than two million extremely … low income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. The

Budget continues funding for all existing mainstream vouchers and provides flexibility to support new

vouchers that were leased and $85 million in special purpose vouchers for homeless families with

children, families at risk of homelessness, and persons with disabilities.”

– Preserve 1.3 Million Affordable Rental Units through Project-Based Rental Assistance Program: “The President’s Budget provides $9.4 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program to preserve

approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with private

owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will help low-income households to obtain or

retain decent, safe and sanitary housing. In addition, the Administration requests $350 million to fund the first phase of this multi-year initiative to regionalize the Housing Choice Voucher program and convert Public Housing to project-based vouchers.”

– Promote Affordable Homeownership and Protect Families from Mortgage Fraud: “The Budget requests $88 million for HUD to support homeownership and foreclosure prevention through Housing

Counseling and $20 million to combat mortgage fraud. In addition, the Budget requests $250 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (NRC) grant and training programs. Of the $250 million, $113 million is requested for foreclosure prevention activities, a $48 million increase (74 percent) over 2010.”

– Fight Gang Violence and Violent Crime: “The Budget provides $112 million for place-based, evidence supported, initiatives to combat violence in local communities, including $25 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives that aim to reduce gun and other violence among youth gangs in cities and towns across the country, and $37 million for the Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Initiative, which targets the youth most affected by violence and most susceptible to propagating it as they grow up.”

– Expand Prisoner Re-entry Programs: “The Budget provides $144 million for Department Justice prisoner re-entry programs, including an additional $100 million for the Office of Justice Programs to administer grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act and $30 million for residential substance abuse treatment programs in State and local prisons and jails. In addition, the Budget provides $98 million for Department of Labor programs that provide employment-centered services to adult and youth ex-offenders and at-risk youth..”

– Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant Program: “The Budget provides $4.4 billion for

the Community Development Fund, including $3.99 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Formula Program (CDBG), and $150 million for the creation of a Catalytic Investment Competition Grants program. The new Catalytic Competition Grants program uses the authorities of CDBG, but will provide capital to bring innovative economic development projects to scale to make a measurable impact.”