This week in community development: 3/7/14

Every week, Praxia Partners shares important community-building news. Check out what we’ve been reading this week.

Saturday is Intentional Women’s Day. Learn more here.

Innovative finance

  • Praxia Partners backs innovative finance that addresses social problemsThis week, we published the latest installment of our Innovative Finance Series. Ohio’s Cuyahoga County is using Pay for Success contracting and social impact bonds financing to reduce the County’s reliance on its foster care system . The ground-breaking plan could save taxpayers money and help homeless families stay intact.
  • After being pioneered in the UK, Pay for Success is gaining traction in the US: Cuyahoga County’s plan is the first County-level Pay for Success procurement initiative, and New York is initiating the first state-level Pay for Success program to address recidivism. (Rockefeller Foundation)

Fair and affordable housing

Economic opportunity

  • We’ve written about apprenticeships before, and this week, we were pleased to see that WBUR’s Here & Now covered the rise of apprenticeships programs in America, which means that workers can gain skills, pay, an eventual employment without incurring crippling student loans.
  • Big banks are profiting from food assistance. How? “Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.” (The American Prospect)
  • Do anti-poverty programs marginalize fathers? From the Atlantic article: “A recent survey from the Center for Family Policy and Practice shows the top two ways that nonprofit service providers connect with men is through parole and child support enforcement programs. ‘As a low-income man, you almost have to get in trouble to get help,’ [Joy Moses, a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress] said.”
  • More and more Americans are turning to temp work to pay the bills, but the field doesn’t do much to protect workers.  From ProPublica’s article:

If [Limber Herrera, who works full time unloading shipping containers] worked in South Korea, his temporary assignment would be limited to two years, after which the company would have to hire him as a regular employee. If he worked in Germany, he would be guaranteed the same wages and working conditions as employees hired directly by the company. And if he worked in Chile, his temp agency could be shut down if it failed to pay him his wages or put him in harm’s way.

Public policy

  • This week, President Obama unveiled his 2015 budget proposal.  It’s important to note that the President’s budget is a platform to display his priorities and values– a two-year budget has already been passed by legislators. The budget includes:
        • A 7% cut for Health & Human Services (And $407 billion in cuts to Medicare in 10 years)
        • A boost to discretionary spending for education
        • A 3% increase in funding for Veterans Affairs
        • A 2% increase for the Social Security Administration

Environmental stewardship

  • Community Renewable Energy backs solar powerPower Africa– which will enable African nations to capitalize on their incredible renewable energy capacity– enjoys bipartisan support.
  • This Thursday, the House of Representatives overrode EPA regulations on coal power plants (H.R. 3826). Critics of this development have said that it represents a step backward in US energy policy and opens the door to China dominating the renewable energy market. The White House spoke out: “Because H.R. 3826 threatens the health and economic welfare of future generations by blocking important standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector, if the president is presented with H.R. 3826, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” (The Hill)
  • President Obama’s recently unveiled 2015 budget proposal takes on climate change. Think Progress broke down some of the green proposals (in their words):
        • Clean Energy Tax Credits. This includes a permanent extension of the production tax credit for wind — a cost of $19.2 billion over ten years — which expired at the end of 2013. There’s also $401 million over that time period for alternative-fuel trucks tax credits, and $1.7 billion for cellulosic biofuel.
        • Cutting Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks. The budget would axe about $4 billion in tax breaks that are currently available to the oil and natural gas industries, and another $3.9 billion in tax preferences for coal.
        • Climate Resiliency Fund. Obama announced last month he would ask Congress for $1 billion to fund new technology and infrastructure to prepare for climate change, aid for communities, and new research. The budget makes good on that promise.
        • Infrastructure vulnerabilities. The budget would give the Department of Homeland Security an extra $400 million to track down “critical infrastructure vulnerabilities” to climate change.
        • Clean Energy Technology. The National Science Foundation would get $362 million under the budget to research advanced forms of green energy.
        • Energy Networks. Overall, the budget boosts funding for the Energy Department to $27.9 billion in 2015 — an increase of 2.6 percent over 2014. That includes $355 million to beef up the robustness of the electrical grid and fuel transportation infrastructure.

What do you think was the most important community development story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about solar power and sustainability, visit Community Renewable Energy’s blog.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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