This week, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings hosted two cabinet secretaries from the Obama administration to hear their views on how housing and transportation connect communities to employment, education, and vital services. In a discussion moderated by program Vice President and Director Amy Liu, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx talked about their approaches to tackling barriers to opportunity.
In her opening remarks, Liu noted that while the U.S. economy continues to grow, “many people and households are not better off–and this is particularly true if you are poor and cut off from jobs, from good schools, and opportunity.” Watch:
Secretary Castro, who previously served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, cited data on divergent life expectancy among neighborhoods in the same metro area, such as Baltimore. He said that “it’s clear that we have a lot of work to do in making investments to ensure that we have high opportunities everywhere.” Watch as he explains how HUD addresses opportunity and mobility:
Secretary Foxx, who previously served as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, reflected on his childhood in that city and how his neighborhood became blocked by freeway infrastructure. As mayor, he said, “I was trying to use infrastructure to try to solve some of these problems.” Watch:
The event also included a panel discussion with experts from metropolitan areas who discussed barriers to opportunity in their respective metros and the challenges to implementing federal housing and transportation policies locally. Senior Fellow Robert Puentes moderated the discussion with Frank Lenk, director of research services at the Mid-American Regional Council (Kansas City); Robin Snyderman of BRicK Partners, LLC (Chicago), and also a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings; and Scot Spencer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (Baltimore).
Full event video is available on the event’s web page.