As recent research has made evident, there are still many communities in all regions of the country where upward mobility is thwarted — where a child’s future earnings and adult outcomes are significantly impeded by the neighborhoods in which they live. Findings from that research support a balanced approach of empowering economic mobility while also reinvesting in and developing access to opportunity in neighborhoods.
HUD is addressing these issues through a variety of ways, such as investing in distressed neighborhoods using an integrated approach and by expanding access to existing high-opportunity neighborhoods. But there is much more that HUD and others — especially those at the state and local level — can do to ensure the success of these efforts and scale them for greater impact.
That is why HUD launched a new initiative earlier this year called Prosperity Playbook. Through Prosperity Playbook, HUD is collaborating with a handful of cities and their surrounding regions to plug into existing efforts that address expanding economic mobility and housing affordability. Our objectives are (1) to learn from communities that are already engaging and innovating in these areas and (2) to collaborate with communities in highlighting and amplifying promising approaches.
Prosperity Playbook is not a federal mandate or plan and there are no new federal dollars associated with the effort. The initiative fully recognizes the value of local leadership and local ideas as well as the need to create a platform to share those ideas across regions and across the country. To underscore that point, Prosperity Playbook kicked off with a community tour to the initial five contributing places: Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California. Each of these places serves as the focal point for a larger, regional conversation on shared opportunity.
At each of these sessions, stakeholders from across each region — mayors, residents, philanthropy, developers, advocates—shared input. These diverse voices are critical to the success of Prosperity Playbook as HUD leverages and strengthens current partnerships in the region to accelerate existing activities, amplify the impact of that action across the region, and catalyze other communities across the country to act. Following the community tour, each contributing community will create a regional blueprint for action outlining best practices and ideas to tackle the specific challenges it faces in creating a more inclusive community.
The best practices will be compiled into a new online toolkit which will be made available at HUDuser.gov later this year. The five initial contributing communities will also serve as the basis for creating a national community of practice that includes a broader group of communities. This community of practice will share lessons across places facing similar challenges, highlight additional best practices, and identify emerging challenges to expanding access to housing affordability and economic mobility.
Finally, please note that Prosperity Playbook is being carried out with partners. In each of the initial participating places, HUD is partnered with mayors and other stakeholders in each region. There are also national partners such as the American Planning Association and the National League of Cities that have signed on to help shape the ideas and content for the resulting toolkit and community of practice in addition to leverage themes of Prosperity Playbook across their networks. In addition to local and national partners, HUD welcomes your input on the toolkit as well through a new email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn M. Ross, AICP is HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development