August 25, 2014

Creating Cities of Opportunity

Cincinnati Ohio

Fiorello LaGuardia, a former Mayor of New York City, famously said “there is no Republican way or Democratic way to clean a street or build a sewer, but merely a right way and a wrong way.”  As a former Mayor myself, I have a deep appreciation of LaGuardia’s sentiment.

Local government officials can’t afford to have their agendas crippled by political ideology or partisan games.  They are judged every day by how well they deliver for the people they serve.  That’s why, so often, cities are where things get done, and the entire Obama Administration is proud to do all we can to support the work of leaders on the ground.

Recently, I was proud to participate in the first convening of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) “Cities of Opportunity Task Force.”   Launched in June by USCM President and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and Chaired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Task Force was formed to address one of the great challenges facing our nation: the growing opportunity gap.

As President Obama has outlined, for decades, we’ve seen trends that show how it’s become harder and harder for working and low-income families.  Average wages have been stagnant.  There has been an increasing disparity between productivity and pay.  Poverty continues to devastate families across the country.

Mayors are uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges.  We are in a Century of Cities, a time when America’s urban centers are growing again.  The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050, the population in urban areas will grow by more than 60 million people.  Clearly, the future of our cities will help determine the future of our nation.  The entire Obama Administration is proud to partner with mayors to ensure that this future provides opportunity for all.

During the Task Force’s meeting, I talked about work the President is doing to make this vision a reality.  He has made this a year of action, doing everything he can to give folks a fair chance at bettering their lives.  I highlighted the President’s actions that will create economic opportunity.  For example, we’re going to create jobs by launching the “Build America Transportation Investment Center”—a new initiative housed at the Department of Transportation and led by Secretary Anthony Foxx, a former mayor himself.  It’s going to help cities and states use innovative financing and enter into partnerships with the private sector to strengthen their infrastructure.

That’s why I’m committed to doing all I can to support the President’s opportunity agenda at HUD.  The fact is that affordable housing and thriving communities are the foundation of strong cities.   We’re going to stay focused on expanding access to credit, ending homelessness, and making our communities more resilient overall.  When families are ready to buy and own a home, we’re going to be there.  If they find themselves homeless, we’re going to be there for them as well—as they get back on their feet.

Cities are where progress often begins—especially with groups like the “Cities of Opportunities Task Force”—and this Administration supports the innovative ideas and solutions that are being generated outside Washington.  They’re going to help HUD and other agencies across the government fulfill their missions and the President’s agenda to expand opportunity for all.

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