In two separate, closed meetings yesterday, President Carter told black and municipal leaders that his administration is committed to revitalizing stagnant or deteriorating local economies, but cannot yet outline specific programs.
Carter met with a moxed response.
The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus emerged from a 45-minute meeting with the President saying the administration has neglected the needs of blacks.
"The questions is, has the status of black folks substantially changed since the president got into office, and the answer is no," said Rep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.).
"Black jobless rates have gone up since January, not down. Black youth unemployment has gone up, not down. More blacks have slid back into poverty since January than before. The bottom line is; there is neglect...,"Mitchell said.
Representatives of the National League of Cities said Carter spent about 10 minutes in a meeting with them "reaffirming his commitment to a national urban policy," and asking them "to hang in there with him" in devising one.
Phyllis Lamphere of Seeattle, president of the league, said the President admitted that the administration's movement on urban problems so far has been "at a slower pace than he might have hoped."
New Orleans Mayor Moon Landreau, among others, said a major accomplishment of yesterday's meeting, which included domestic policy adviser Stuart Eizenstat and Patricia Roberts Harris, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was a promise from administration officials that they would give city officials a say in administration urban policy.
Some black and urban leaders have stepped up their criticism of the administration in recent weeks, claiming that not enough attention has been devoted to problems of cities and the urban poor.
The AFL-CIO added some criticism of its own along the same theme Tuesday. Sources inside and outside the administration have said that, partly in reaction to such criticism, within the past two weeks have speeded up their attempts to put together a national urban policy.
White House press secretary Jody Powell said yesterday that no specific desicions have been made on the details. "It's not clear if we're talking about comprehensive legislation or changes in existing regulations," he said.
Items reported to be under consideration, however, include a domestic development bank granting low-interest loans to companies in declining cities, an urban development bank granting emergency loans to cities like New York that have difficulty gaining access to the public securities market, and new efforts to curb redlining, the banking industry practice of not making loans in declining neighborhoods.
Metchell said an urban policy geared to economic development, which sources indicate Carter's will be, in "only part of the ball game."
He said the Congressional Black Caucus, when it meets with Carter Tuesday, will lay out a proposal for a "war on joblessness which will not cost any money at all."
"Roughly, what we're suggesting is that the total weight of every governmental agency that's supposed to be helping cities be brought to bear under close supervision in one or two or three cities . . . on an experimental basis . . . and see whether or not any of these existing programs can really have an impact," Mitchell said.