America's cities are growing at the same rate or faster than its suburbs for the first time since World War II, and demographic changes in millennials, baby boomers, and immigrants will only add to the growth in coming years.
The biggest challenge in these cities is the rapid growth of income inequality, and as President Obama has said, that will be the greatest problem for the next President of the United States to address. Here, CityLab provides three specific suggestions for how that person can work with cities, with or without Congress, to fix urban problems:
Break down silos. The effectiveness of existing federal investments in cities is hampered by entrenched divisions and communication gaps between the federal agencies that administer them. All too often one agency doesn’t know what investments another is making in a particular place.
Incentivize inclusionary policies. The greatest tool at the federal government’s disposal is its money. Each year, the federal government distributes more than $600 billion, about 17 percent of its budget, to states and localities, providing about a quarter of their general revenues. Agencies could give cities that take certain qualifying steps to overcome economic inequalities a “leg up” for the share of these grants that are awarded competitively.
Get ahead of the curve. Increasingly, local governments are developing predictive analytics with their own data and private sector “big data” to get ahead of the curve and prevent problems such as traffic collisions, homelessness, and public health hazards. Federal agencies manage 8.4 billion records, and much of this data is or could be geocoded. The next administration could take this work several steps further by investing in the integration of data, from both within and outside the federal government, to make projections about stresses cities face that may drive inequalities, from property abandonment to gentrification pressures, and redeploy both financial and technical resources to help direct growth towards more inclusive outcomes.