February 21, 2013

Creating a Thriving Middle Class

During his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a Plan for a Strong Middle Class and a Strong America.  His plan builds on the progress made during his first term and strengthens the middle class by making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing, equipping every American with the skills they need to do those jobs, and ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living.

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to get together with a number of local Wisconsin elected officials in Milwaukee for a roundtable discussion on different parts of this plan, our economic recovery and building a strong future for all Americans.  Along with Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and Racine Mayor John Dickert, we talked about how HUD can support the President’s plan.

As the President says, a  zip code should never determine a child’s destiny – but today, the neighborhood he or she grows up in impacts everything from the odds of graduating high school, to health, to economic opportunities throughout their life.  We need to rebuild whole communities if we want to create opportunities.  The Promise Zones proposed by the President will create partnerships with hard-hit communities to help target resources to create jobs, boost public safety, improve public education and stimulate better housing opportunities.

With our Choice Neighborhoods initiative communities are our partners in the transformation of a neighborhood, using public-private partnerships and proven mixed-use, mixed finance tools to revitalize not just public housing but create a ripple effect the brings partners together and capital back into our communities.

Our Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative also embraces this approach by providing the type of intensive technical assistance that will help local leaders navigate federal programs, cut red tape, and use resources more effectively.

While we won’t solve every challenge we face right away, there are steps we can take right now to grow the economy, revitalize our communities, and give our children a better start.  Through a collaborative effort between businesses, federal, state, and local officials, faith-based and non-profit organizations, the private sector and the members of local communities, we can ensure that our children have the support they need to climb the ladder of opportunity into the middle class.

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