PROJECTBuilding the Next-Gen Federal Place-based Program


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  • Designing the Next Generation of Federal Place-Based Policy: Insights from Past and Ongoing Programs

    To succeed, efforts to advance racial equity and boost upward mobility will require a robust national commitment to reversing the legacy of segregation and disinvestment that disproportionately harm low-income communities of color. And the federal government can play a central role by catalyzing and supporting such reparative work within communities, in partnership with local and state governments, regional coalitions, and philanthropy.

    This report presents findings from a scan of 33 past and ongoing federal place-based programs to inform future federal place-based policies. It reflects advice and input from a policy working group made up of policymakers and civic leaders with broad and deep experience working in communities across the country.

    A Blueprint for the Next Generation of Federal Place-Based Policy

    The federal government has a central role to play in reversing the legacy of racial segregation and disinvestment that disproportionately harms low-income communities of color. Developed in a partnership between Urban Institute and PolicyLink, this blueprint aims to help federal agency officials, congressional staff, and policy advocates design a next generation of place-based policies and programs that catalyze lasting improvements for the benefit of current and future residents. It responds to the priorities of local practitioners to actively address racial inequity and injustice, bridge sectors and policy domains, respect and build community voice and power, deliver sufficient resources and lasting system reforms, and promote continuous learning. The guidelines offered here apply lessons from past programs and reflect input from a policy working group made up of civic leaders working in communities across the country.

    Policy Examples

    The blueprint is intended to guide policy design for all types of federal place-based investment and engagement. It can inform the development of an entirely new place-based program, the allocation of one-time stimulus or recovery dollars, or the refinement of an existing program. In partnership with the policy working group, we illustrate the use of the blueprint by applying it to the design of four diverse place-based initiatives:

    • A revived Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing requirement equipped to achieve its goal of overcoming the legacy of segregation and fostering inclusive communities free from barriers to opportunity. Read the policy example.
    • An expanded and enhanced Promise Neighborhoods program that delivers social and educational interventions, from cradle to career, to ensure the long-term success of children and families in disinvested neighborhoods. Read the policy example.
    • Major new investments in transportation infrastructure that expand residents’ mobility and access to opportunity and promote environmental sustainability, while centering equity in planning processes. Read the policy example.
    • A new Community Restoration and Revitalization Fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects in disinvested communities. Read the policy example.
    Policy Centers Research to Action Lab