Broad Shoulders Update

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Archive for the ‘congress’ tag

Climate Change Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

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Yesterday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a climate change bill. This legislation will require states to use 10 percent of their allocations from a new cap and trade system to reduce transportation-related emissions. A similar bill in the House would allow up to 10 percent for transportation projects, but not require it.

At least five Senate committees are expected to exert jurisdiction over the climate change bill. Thus, the text released yesterday is subject to a lot of changes. We will keep everyone updated as these move along.

Written by dpersky

October 1st, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Federal Funding for Active Transportation Protected

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Thanks to the efforts of Active Trans members and our national partners, federal funding for active transportation was protected today. Senator Coburn introduced a series of amendments that would have had the effect of stripping funding for many bicycle, pedestrian and transit projects from the FY 2010 budget. The amendments were defeated.

In related news, Active Trans is participating in a national lobby day next week to increase money for urban active transportation projects.

For more information on Active Trans' legislative agenda, please visit

Written by dpersky

September 16th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

A Test of Character

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health-care.jpgHealth reform has officially become a test of character — the character of our nation and, perhaps more immediately, the character of our elected representatives.

Last night, President Obama laid out a strong, meaningful and moral health-reform platform. It is a sensible and fair approach that will help improve the lives, health and security of millions of American families.

Under the plan, hard-working Americans can be sure that an unexpected layoff or an effort to start your own business won’t keep you from getting the treatment you need. And strong prevention measures will help save money and reduce the terrible effects chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma are having on low-income people and communities of color.

It is time for leaders on all sides to put their heads down and do the work we elected them to do. The Obama plan represents a broad consensus, packed with the most promising ideas from experts, doctors and leaders on both sides of the Congressional aisle.

After a long, hot, loud August filled with disinformation and overheated rhetoric, it is time for the politics to cool. How Republican leaders react to this speech throughout September and October will show clearly whether they are in Washington to make the lives of everyday Americans better or if they are there to score cheap political points at the expense of the American people.

The perpetual campaign must stop. Our unfair, outdated, and unresponsive health-care system has dragged down families and businesses for far too long.

Obama stepped up to the plate last night, showing a willingness to bring any good ideas into the fold. But a willingness to compromise does not mean stepping away from essential elements and cannot represent a willingness to wait.

The time is now for real change. It’s up to our elected leaders to decide whether they want to play a constructive role — or merely hurl invective from the sidelines.

This article also appeared in the Washington Post’s “Health Care RX” experts panel. For more of Angela Glover Blackwell’s analyses, click here.

Written by Angela Glover Blackwell

September 10th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Experts See “Uneven” Housing Recovery in Gulf Coast

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NEW ORLEANS — Nearly four years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, housing for the Gulf Coast’s most vulnerable residents remains scarce and continues to mar other significant progress made in the region so far, experts told a Congressional field hearing yesterday and today.

While community groups and local leaders have made enormous strides in rebuilding and reclaiming many neighborhoods throughout the Gulf Coast, federal and state aid programs — most notably the Road Home program — have failed to live up to their promise.

“The progress of housing recovery at the community level has been very uneven and has led to racial and social inequities,” Dominique Duval-Diop, senior associate in the PolicyLink office in New Orleans, said at Thursday’s hearing. “We may have missed the opportunity to create sustainable and resilient communities — communities that are able to initiate and invest in their own recovery and redevelopment.”

The Congressional field hearings are being conducted by Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. The hearings will continue place today at Lawless Memorial Chapel, Dillard University, 2601 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans.

Other experts who testified included:

  • Davida Finger of Loyola Law Clinic
  • Allison Plyer of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center
  • Laura Tuggle of Southeast Louisiana Legal Aid
  • James Perry of Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center
  • Cynthia Wiggins, a public housing resident
  • Angela Patterson of Unity of Greater New Orleans
  • Anita Sinha of the Advancement Project

The experts look at a wide range of issues, including:

  • The difficulty homeowners faced in navigating the Road Home program
  • Significant New Orleans rent increases since 2005
  • Ongoing difficulty for elderly, disabled, and low-income households who formerly lived in HUD-assisted homes that have still not been replaced
  • Fair housing violations that are prevalent post-Katrina.
  • The growth in the homeless population from 6000 to 12,000 since Katrina.

In 2007 and 2008, PolicyLink undertook major studies of the three major housing rebuilding programs: the Road Home homeowners program; the Multifamily Rental Program (funded through Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Disaster CDBG funds); and the Small Rental Repair Program.  Significant challenges remain in each of those programs.

In particular, the Road Home grant formula has had a more negative effect on those whose damage estimates were higher than their home value. Those whose damages were greater than their pre-storm home value - 47.3% of all applicants rebuilding in place - fell on average $69,000 short of the money they need to rebuild.

This was a particular problem in low-income, predominantly black neighborhoods in New Orleans. More than 60 percent of households in New Orleans East and the Lower 9th Ward have gaps over $40,000, compared to 49 percent citywide and 33 percent statewide. The average rebuilding cost gap for those communities were $65,000 and $68,000, respectively — a mammoth sum for low-income residents struggling to come home.

But insufficient government programs are far from residents’ only concerns, Duval-Diop says.

“Many recipients face insufficient rebuilding grants, contractor fraud, a high-cost environment, inability to access additional credit, and home-title succession challenges that delay or deny funding for the home repair.,” she said. “Our analysis found that the

majority of homeowners choosing to rebuild in place did not have sufficient resources to fully recover their homes.”

For more information on Gulf Coast rebuilding, please visit

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 21st, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Leading Health Foundations Say Prevention is Vital to Health Systems Reform

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New York, NY - Leaders of six of the nation’s top health foundations today made an unprecedented joint call for prevention measures to be central to the reform of our national health systems.In a letter released today, leaders at The California Endowment, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente, wrote that prevention measures like early health screenings and improved access to healthy food will save both lives and money. Good health, they argue, doesn’t start at the doctor’s office - it starts where we live, work, learn and play.Beginning in 2006, the six foundations, along with technical advisor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, partnered to form the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership - a collaboration of funders looking to help healthy people live in healthy places. Today’s letter was released on behalf of the Partnership.

In the letter, the foundation leaders point to several proven examples where community-level prevention measures improved health, saved money, and cultivated community leadership.

“This is a strong national platform for the nation to build on,” they write in the letter, available in full at “With additional resources, it could bring considerable improvements in health for all Americans. It is time to scale up these efforts by including robust financial support for community prevention in any health systems reform.”

The letter’s signatories are:

  • Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO; The California Endowment
  • Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Senior Vice President; Kaiser Permanente
  • Rip Rapson, CEO; The Kresge Foundation
  • David J. Bailey, MD; CEO and President; Nemours 
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA; President Robert Wood Johnson Foundation   
  • Sterling K. Speirn; President and CEO; W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The letter is released at a crucial time, as Americans and Congress debate how to reform our national health care system.

The foundation leaders stress that prevention can save money and improve the long-term population health. A study last year from the Trust for America’s Health showed that for every dollar we invest in proven community-based disease prevention programs, we save $5.60. If we invested $10 per person in prevention, we could yield savings of more than $16 billion nationwide annually within five years.

The American people also want a health care system built around smart prevention measures. A recent Greenberg Poll showed prevention was the most popular potential health care fix, with nearly half of respondents rating it a 10 out of 10 in terms of importance.

Successful programs highlighted in the letter include:

  • In Bakersfield, Calif., a small group of local mothers - many of them Spanish-speaking farm workers - formed a walking group to improve their fitness and build community. With the help of police, parks officials, and the local Chamber of Commerce, the group cleaned up a long-neglected park and reported meaningful improvements in their health.
  • In Somerville, Mass., the citywide Shape Up Somerville campaign helped bring the city healthier school food, safer routes to school, farmers markets, community gardens, and more nutritional restaurant options. Weight gain among first- through third-graders has already slowed.
  • In Delaware, the statewide Make Delaware’s Kids the Healthiest in the Nation campaign ensured that policies and practices in early education focus on healthy eating and physical activity as part of a comprehensive approach to positively impact childhood obesity where children live, learn, and play. For every dollar invested in the initiative, Delaware saw a $4 savings in healthcare costs.

“Over time,” the foundation leaders wrote, “a focus on community prevention will improve health, save money, reduce demands on our health system and, most important, lead to a nation of healthier people and healthier places to live.”

About The Convergence Partnership In 2006, a collaboration of funders came together to create the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership, with the shared goal of changing policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places. The steering committee includes representatives from The California Endowment, Kaiser Permanente, Nemours, The Kresge Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serve as critical technical advisors on the committee. PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity, serves as program directors for the partnership. Prevention Institute, a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving community health and equity through effective primary prevention, provides policy research and analysis along with strategic support.

For more information, please visit

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 17th, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Prevention is Crucial, Say Leaders of Six Nat’l Health Foundations

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Leaders of six of the nation’s top health foundations today announced an unprecedented joint call that community-level prevention measures must be central to national health systems reform.

In a joint letter released today, leaders at The California Endowment, The Kresge Foundation, Nemours, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente, wrote that community-level prevention measures like improved access to healthy food will save both lives and money.

The letter was released on behalf of the Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of funders working to change policies and environments to better achieve the vision of healthy people living in healthy places

As Americans and Congress debate how best to reform our health systems, the foundation leaders show how vital community-level prevention measures are to making Americans healthier for the long-term.

To read the full letter, please visit

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 17th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Congress, Health Reform, and Prevention

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Click to CallHealth-care reform negotiations are heating up.  Now is the time to make sure that prevention and equity are part of the final health reform package.
Contact your legislators and tell them:

  • Prevention measures recognize that where we live affects how we live. Congress has to address health in communities where people live, work, and play–not just in a doctor’s office, a hospital, or a clinic.
  • Communities with prevention measures such as easy access to fresh food, clean air, public transit, and safe places to play are places that enable all Americans to be healthier.
  • Low income communities and communities of color bear a greater disease burden because they are often disproportionately exposed to poor air quality, have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and offer fewer options for exercise, physical activity, and preventative care.  When we focus on prevention in every community, we help reduce inequities in all communities.
  • Investments in prevention not only help all Americans to live healthier, longer lives, but will ultimately save money.


Keep the four points above handy when you contact your Congressional representatives:

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 4th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

PolicyLink statement on the Federal Transportation Authorization

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The 775-page transportation authorization bill introduced in the House this week, offers a broad, reform-minded framework for fixing our nation’s transportation system. However, more must be done to ensure an equitable, smart, and green transportation system that provides real, affordable options for all Americans.
To help you stay abreast of the transportation authorization, we are hosting a conference call on Friday June 26th from 2:30 to 3:30 pm EST (11:30 am to 12:30 pm PDT), where PolicyLink, Transportation for America, and the Transportation Equity Network will break down the equity opportunities in the new transportation authorization bill.

To RSVP for the call, visit

“This bill provides a promising foundation for real transportation reform in America, but we must do more to ensure this bill promotes true access to opportunity for lower-income people and communities of color,” said Radhika Fox, PolicyLink Federal Policy Director. “While the House bill includes some positive provisions, more work needs to be done to ensure that this $450 billion dollar investment creates communities of opportunity for all Americans.”

We need far more detail, for instance, on whether low-income people and people of color will have meaningful access to good jobs and job training programs in the transportation sector. Most of the sections of the bill that cover these issues are blank with details “to be supplied.” In addition, we need stronger provisions to make sure cities and regions can use federal transportation resources to help cash-strapped transit agencies with support for the costs of current operations, not just capital construction.

The foundation for much-needed reform is in place, but the hard work of hammering out the details to ensure our nation’s under-served communities benefit still remains. PolicyLink stands ready to support members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House leadership to craft a transformative bill that will foster equity and inclusion in America.

We also encourage you to visit the Transportation for America and Transportation Equity Network for more information.

FRIDAY: Transportation Conf Call

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With the release this week of the 775-page transportation re-authorization bill, the starting gun has officially sounded on the effort to create real transportation reform in America.

During a conference call Friday, June 26, from 2:30-3:30 pm EDT (11:30 am to 12:30 pm PDT), we will break down the equity opportunities in the new transportation authorization bill introduced in Congress this week – which could include billions in funding for low-income communities and communities of color.

RSVP for the call here

Panelists will include: