HUD secretary announces cities plan in Detroit

July 11, 2011 - 12:14 PM

DETROIT (AP) — The Obama administration is launching a pilot program designed to spark economic growth in urban America by partnering federal officials with local decision-makers in six cities, the U.S Housing and Urban Development secretary announced Monday.

"Too often, the federal government has been part of the problem, rather than part of the solution," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said during a news event in Detroit at which he unveiled the Strong Cities, Strong Communities plan.

The idea, Donovan said, is to create what he called Community Solutions Teams, which will have employees from several different federal agencies work directly with local officials in Detroit; Chester, Pa.; Fresno, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Cleveland and New Orleans.

The teams will be asked to help the six cities with issues their mayors have identified as important, such as developing transportation infrastructure and improving job-training programs.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who was on hand for Donovan's announcement, said he's excited to receive a different kind of investment from the U.S. government — human capital — rather than money that in the past hasn't always been managed efficiently by city leaders.

"One of the things that's happened historically with Detroit is that we've gotten financial support and we've not managed the finances very, very well," Bing said. "When I came into office, there was money that had been allocated to us years and years ago."

Donovan made the announcement at a loft development near downtown.

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Mike Householder can be reached at http://twitter.com/mikehouseholder.