WASHINGTON -- Some $4 billion from President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan that was budgeted to renovate public housing will be spent to create so-called "green jobs" by making the dwellings more energy efficient.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, another task force member, also will announce that $500 million from the stimulus is becoming available to train workers for these jobs. That sum includes $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry.
Both Donovan and Solis also were announcing that their departments are working together to make it easier for public housing residents to find training programs or a green job.
The task force, which includes several other Cabinet secretaries, has been working since January to highlight policies and practices to help improve the standard of living of the middle class, an income group that suffered as the economy faltered.
The meeting at the Denver Science Museum, where Obama signed the stimulus plan into law three months ago, was being held to outline different ways government departments are working together to steer the middle class toward green jobs.
These jobs, broadly defined as related to helping the environment, pay up to 20 percent more than other jobs, are more likely to be union jobs and are more likely to be held by men, less so by minorities and people who live in cities, according to a report the task force issued in February. These jobs also are ones that cannot be easily transferred overseas.
Obama has pushed greening the economy -- reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, developing domestic alternatives and easing the effects of climate change -- as ways to help pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Donovan said Monday that the investment in public housing will help meet several goals: improving the quality of public housing, reducing energy costs for residents and the government, and creating jobs for people who live in the units and in the surrounding community.
"A whole set of things can repay investments in a short period of time," Donovan said in an interview. Replacing windows, insulation, appliances and even light bulbs are among the possible renovations.
Jared Bernstein, the task force executive director, said the panel's agenda complements Obama's
"By boosting the green economy, you're promoting green energy and clean production at the same time that you're generating green jobs," Bernstein, who is also Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist, said Monday in an interview. Biden is in charge of the task force.
The energy, education and labor secretaries also were set to announce a partnership to help link the unemployed with jobs, training and education opportunities.