Expanding Opportunities in America’s Urban Areas

CAP hosted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to speak on expanding opportunities in America’s urban areas

CAP and AFSCME Host Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Speak on Expanding Opportunities in America’s Urban Areas

Today the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) hosted former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and a panel of experts to discuss expanding opportunities in America’s urban areas. More than 13.9 million Americans live in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty–where the poverty rate is 30 percent or higher–and the concentrated poverty rate remains highest in big cities. As more and more Americans are moving back into our urban centers, there is much work to be done to address the challenges that plague our nation’s cities, from housing and transportation to education and workforce accessibility.

At this morning’s event, Secretary Clinton acknowledged that “one of the biggest issues we face is income inequality combined with wage stagnation,” while Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME, added that “good jobs are at the root of all the social and economic problems that must be addressed.”

Expanding opportunity in America’s urban areas is also the subject of a new report released by CAP in conjunction with today’s event. The report discusses the unique challenges cities face—namely the shortage of affordable housing, inadequate infrastructure, income inequality and poverty—and offers five policy strategies to address some of these obstacles:

  • Establish comprehensive place-based strategies that acknowledge the interdependent nature of the challenges and involve community leaders across sectors and agencies.
  • Ensure access to quality housing and transportation by providing direct federal funding to empower local leaders, removing barriers to spending federal funds and holding state and local governments accountable for their investment decisions.
  • Support workers by eliminating barriers to employment through apprenticeship programs in high demand industries.
  • Spur economic development in distressed neighborhoods by fostering the role of anchor institutions and ensuring capital flows to distressed communities.
  • Empower state and local leaders by establishing place-based efforts in states to revitalize distressed areas, requiring higher workforce standards for government spending and subsidies, and taking financial access into account to save consumers money.

BOTTOM LINE: Cities are the economic engines of our country, but decades of failing to employ a focused and collaborative effort have left many in urban areas struggling. A focused effort on making our cities stronger will help put people back to work and grow our economy.

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