On June 16, 2009, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that they were forming the inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This action marked a fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing and environmental spending, policies, and programs.
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Through the Partnership and guided by six Livability Principles (see below), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are coordinating investments and aligning policies to support communities that want to give Americans more housing choices, make transportation systems more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses. Each agency is working to incorporate the principles into its funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals.
HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities Guiding Livability Principles:
- Provide more transportation choices. Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
- Promote equitable, affordable housing. Expand location – and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
- Enhance economic competitiveness. Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
- Support existing communities. Target federal funding toward existing communities – through strategies like transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling - to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.
- Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment. Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
- Value communities and neighborhoods. Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods – rural, urban, or suburban.
In its first year, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities made strides toward three goals:
- Targeting resources through grants and other programs to help states and communities create jobs and stronger economies by developing more sustainably.
- Removing regulatory policy barriers at the federal level to make it easier for state and local governments to access federal services and resources.
- Aligning agency priorities and embedding the Livability Principles in each agency’s actions so that transportation, housing, and environmental protection efforts are coordinated.
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants: In February 2010, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, DOT announced $1.5 billion in TIGER grants for more than 50 innovative transportation projects across the country.
Joint DOT TIGER II-HUD Community Challenge Grants: For the first time, DOT and HUD will join forces to award up to $75 million – up to $35 million in transportation planning grants from the second round of TIGER funds and $40 million in HUD Community Challenge Planning Grants to support local planning activities that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development (awarded Fall 2010).
HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants: In June 2010, HUD opened the application process for the $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. This program will support metropolitan and multi jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments (awarded Fall 2010).
Funds for Urban Circulator Bus & Bus Livability Projects: In July 2010, DOT awarded nearly $300 million under two new programs that will give Americans better transportation choices and strengthen communities. Six cities were chosen including Cincinnati, OH; Orlando, FL; Montrose, CO; and New York City, NY.
State Revolving Funds for Water Infrastructure: The single largest category of funds that flow from EPA to states and ultimately local communities is funding for water infrastructure projects, also known as State Revolving Funds (SRFs). In May 2010, EPA issued guidance to states on spending the 2010 appropriation of $3.3 billion for clean water and drinking water infrastructure. The guidance explicitly recommends that states make funding decisions that are consistent with the Livability Principles, and that they discourage expanding infrastructure to accommodate growth if there are available facilities in existing communities.
Source: Progress for American Communities: Partnership for Sustainable Communities