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Obama’s Urban Policy Provides Opportunity for Community-Based Planning

barack obama

Last night’s Obama win is truly a victory for community organizing. As he mentioned in his victory speech, his win can be traced, at least in part, to grassroots organizing tactics. Our congratulations go out to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly on his campaign.

Under an Obama administration, community-based planners and other city advocates have much to gain. His urban policy shows that our President-elect truly cares about creating and maintaining livable, sustainable cities. Here are a few highlights:

  • Obama has pledged to fully fund the community development block grant program. Recipients of CDBGs “must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation.” In New York City, CDBG funds are used to create affordable housing; provide public services such as day care and senior centers; fund improvements to local businesses; and support many other initiatives, from local arts projects to community gardens.
  • Obama is dedicated to improving infrastructure, but with sustainability in mind. His policy states: “Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars, to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.”
  • Obama understands that planning and health are inextricably linked. The policy says: “How a community is designed – including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks – has a huge impact on the health of its residents.” In 2007, he introduced the Healthy Places Act, which would, among other mandates, create “an interagency working group to discuss environmental health concerns, particularly concerns disproportionately affecting disadvantaged populations,” and require the Director of the Centers for Disease control to create, “guidance for the assessment of potential health effects of land use, housing, and transportation policy and plans.”