Expanding the Blueprint for Prosperity
Lynn Ross, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development.
Last September, HUD commemorated its first 50 years as a federal agency. The 50th anniversary provided the Department with the opportunity to not only reflect on the past but also look to the future and consider how HUD will continue its mission to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
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 by investing in distressed neighborhoods using an integrated approach and by expanding access to existing high-opportunity neighborhoods. Perhaps most important, the new Affirmatively Further Fair Housing final rule is a regulatory lever that directly addresses the unevenness of opportunity across communities by providing an effective planning approach for overcoming historic patterns of segregation, promoting fair housing choice, and fostering inclusive communities that are free from discrimination. 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 recently launched a new initiative called Prosperity Playbook to expand the blueprint of innovation around what federal, state, and local partners should do to support economic mobility; expand housing affordability; and increase access to opportunity-rich neighborhoods, education, and jobs.
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. 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. To date, we’ve visited Kansas City, Missouri and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the coming weeks, Secretary Castro will travel to Atlanta, Denver, and San Francisco to round out the tour. Each of these places will serve as a focal point for a larger, regional conversation on shared opportunity.
At each of these sessions, we hear from stakeholders from across each region — mayors, residents, philanthropy, developers, advocates, and others. 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 surfaced during the community tour will be compiled into a new online toolkit, the Prosperity Playbook toolkit. The toolkit, which will be made available at HUDuser.gov, will help local leaders think regionally about how to expand affordable housing opportunity and forge greater economic mobility in communities across the nation. It will be a collection of the best ideas from a cross-section of local leaders who are committed to working regionally to solve some of the most difficult issues facing our communities.
For the specific challenges identified, HUD will work with each region to help accelerate progress in addressing the issue. Although no new federal dollars are associated with Prosperity Playbook to help address these challenges, HUD will leverage its powers to convene and provide guidance to help advance work on the set of challenges each community faces.
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 to inform the toolkit, and identify new challenges to expanding access to housing affordability and economic mobility that will need to be addressed going forward.
Finally, please note that Prosperity Playbook is being carried out with partners. In each of the initial participating places, HUD is partnered with the mayor and, in most of the places, a regional entity such as the Metropolitan Council in the Twin Cities region and the Mid-America Regional Council in the Kansas City region. There are also national partners such as the American Planning Association — with whom HUD already partners on the annual HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award — that have signed on to help convene and facilitate discussions with regional leaders at each of the five tour locations and to help shape the ideas and content for the resulting toolkit.
In addition to local and national partners, HUD welcomes your input on the toolkit as well. Please visit the Best Practices group on the HUD USER forums to share suggestions for policies, programs, and practices from your community that should be considered for the Prosperity Playbook Toolkit.