White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Publishes Implementation Plan
President Trump established the Opportunity and Revitalization Council in December 2018 to target, streamline, and coordinate federal resources to be used in Opportunity Zone (OZs) and other economically distressed communities. The interagency Council is chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
On April 4, the Council held its first meeting and President Trump introduced Scott Turner, who previously served in the Texas House of Representatives and is a former NFL player, as the new executive director of the Council. At the meeting, President Trump asked the various Cabinet Secretaries to share updates on how they’ve incorporated OZs in their programs.
Reports ranged from Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta’s update that the Department of Labor is adding preference points to grants focused on workforce development opportunities in OZs, to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s report that the EPA will announce more than $15 million in grants this summer to revitalize communities that will use OZ designations as a tie-breaking criteria. At the time, Secretary Carson didn’t share any specifics from HUD.
Shortly thereafter, the Council published its implementation plan. The plan states that the Council “maintains the core mission and function of leading joint efforts across executive departments and agencies to engage with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments to attract private capital and better use public funds to revitalize urban and economically distressed communities.” The plan elaborates on the Council’s goals and functions, which include but are not limited to:
- Assessing actions each agency can take under existing authorities to prioritize or focus federal investments and programs on urban and economically distressed communities, including qualified Opportunity Zones;
- Coordinating federal interagency efforts to help ensure that private and public stakeholders–including public housing agencies, nonprofit organizations, and economic development organizations–can successfully develop strategies for economic growth and revitalization;
- Evaluating appropriate methods for federal cooperation with and support for states, localities, and tribes that are innovatively and strategically facilitating economic growth and inclusion in urban and economically distressed communities, including qualified Opportunity Zones, consistent with preserving state, local, and tribal control; and
- Evaluating what data, metrics, and methodologies can be used to measure the effectiveness of public and private investments in urban and economically distressed communities, including qualified Opportunity Zones.
The plan also establishes a framework for the implementation of these goals. The HUD Secretary will be advised by five subcommittees that include economic development, entrepreneurship, safe neighborhoods, education, and workforce development. The subcommittees identify a range of issues that they will focus on, including the following: infrastructure programs; minority, female, and rural entrepreneurship; crime reduction; public safety; environmental conditions; reentry programs; workforce development; and educational opportunities, especially charter schools.
When describing the Economic Development subcommittee, the plan acknowledges the importance of investments in housing, stating, “Targeted public investment in infrastructure, transportation, public spaces, and housing will help Opportunity Zones attract private capital to withstand periods of economic distress.” However, there is no direct language about how OZs would prioritize housing.
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