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Gore Outlines 'Community Investment' Strategy

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Washington

Sketching the outlines of a broad-based strategy for social action, Clinton Administration officials from several departments have stressed the need to craft coordinated and comprehensive solutions to community problems.

Cabinet members and senior White House officials spoke at a conference here last month sponsored by the Housing and Urban Development Department. The meeting drew more than 2,000 local officials, community and economic developers, advocates for the homeless, and business leaders.

Vice President Gore said the meeting symbolized "the coming of age'' of a community-development movement that has been gathering steam for two decades.

While praising community-development groups, state and local governments, and private businesses for initiatives in housing, jobs, and services, Mr. Gore argued that the federal government for too long "stood passively on the sidelines'' of such efforts.

"We are standing with you, with a community-investment strategy that builds on the work you are already doing,'' he said.

The Vice President then highlighted Administration "investments in people, places, and new partnerships'' that form the building blocks.

Catalyze and Mediate

The list touched on homeless and housing-aid policies, the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, health-care and welfare reform, and education initiatives ranging from improving Head Start and Chapter 1 to promoting national service and school-to-work programs.

Mr. Gore and Secretary of H.U.D. Henry Cisneros also detailed how the "flagship'' empowerment-zone program passed by Congress will bring grants, tax credits, and social services to 104 distressed communities, and how the National Community Development Initiative, a new partnership between H.U.D., private corporations, and foundations, will channel revitalization funds to community-development corporations in 23 cities.

Mr. Cisneros, Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, and other White House officials stressed the need to link their efforts.

Community development works best, Mr. Cisneros said, "when it spans the broad range of issues that affect the health of communities: housing, jobs, crime, schools, transportation, health services, and commercial development.''

Mr. Gore said the community-enterprise board created by President Clinton to oversee the empowerment-zones effort will play a key role in forging a "coherent national strategy for urban revitalization and community investment.''

The board includes the Secretaries of all departments and the heads of the Small Business Administration, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget.

President Clinton, in taped remarks to the conference, also stressed the need to build on local partnerships involving business, government, civic, and community-based organizations.

"It is emphatically not our role to mandate everything, regulate everything, or pay for everything,'' Mr. Gore said. "Our role is to catalyze, facilitate, and mediate when necessary--and then get out of the way,'' he said.

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