U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will award $100 million in grants for livable and sustainable communitiesOctober 14, 2010
By Sean Barry
For the first time in the agency’s history, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $100 million in grants today to help communities become more livable and sustainable, by connecting housing to jobs and transportaiton options.
The 45 regional winners from communities small and large across the country embody precisely the kind of innovation and creativity federal policy should be supporting. All of the winning projects recognize the crucial link between economic and community development, and many have a strong transportation element as well.
The grants are some of the first tangible fruit of President Obama’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a partnership within that brings HUD together with the U.S. Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation around shared goals to transcend the usual bureaucratic silos — giving them the rare chance to work in concert to achieve a specific goal. The Partnership is already finding ways to make federal spending more efficient and promote local innovation.
“In awarding these grants, we were committed to using insight and innovation from our stakeholders and local partners to develop a ‘bottom-up’ approach to changing federal policy as opposed to ‘top-down,’” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan explained. “Rather than sticking to the old Washington playbook of dictating how communities can invest their grants, HUD’s application process encouraged creative, locally focused thinking.”
Among the grant winners are local agencies that have already received accolades for their path-breaking work on livable communities and transportation options. Two of them, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Salt Lake County, have pioneered the idea of “blueprint planning” for transportation and land use.” The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation in North Carolina, Oregon’s Lane Council of Governments and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments were also awarded.
One of the most exciting winners is California State University Fresno, which received $4 million to implement a land use planning vision for 14 participating cities in the fertile San Joaquin Valley. The Valley has historically been agriculture-rich and auto-dependent, so a collaborative effort at planning that increases transit options and boosts the economy while protecting vital farmland is a major step. Smarter transportation could also go a long way toward relieving some of the pollution problems in San Joaquin.
Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, said in a statement that her community is “excited about the promise of federal agencies working in such a focused, concentrated way with the city of Fresno. We hope this partnership will provide us with the technical expertise and resources to focus on one of the most challenging neighborhoods in the city.”
You can see a complete list of winners here.
This is a good opportunity to remind you to tell your Senator to support the Livable Communities Act, a program that would help equip local communities to do more of this kind of work.