The Transbay Transit Center being developed in San Francisco will provide a transit hub at the center of a mixed-use neighborhood. Projects like this one will benefit from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
A partnership among three federal agencies, announced in 2009, is already helping local and regional governments develop sustainability plans, transportation options, and affordable housing; the program may get a large financial boost in the 2011 federal budget. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities brings together the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to support a series of grant and technical assistance programs aimed at local and regional planning efforts. If the Obama administration has its way, funding for the partnership will increase dramatically—from $150 million to $690 million—in 2011.
Although each agency has developed its own programs to support the partnership, they are working together to support collaboration at the local and regional level. “We’re seeing a true collaborative process among these three agencies,” said Art von Lehe, a policy analyst with ICLEI, a nonprofit organization devoted to the development of sustainable communities. The existing programs work together to address various aspects of sustainability, from transportation and affordable housing to brownfield redevelopment.
HUD is taking the lead among the agencies with a $100 million grant program that will support planning and implementation for projects that integrate solutions to housing and transportation needs while addressing environmental impacts. According to von Lehe, interest among ICLEI’s 600 U.S. member communities has been high. “The economic forecast has definitely been better” for local governments, he said, and the funding from HUD will support economic development and job creation. HUD was accepting comments on the proposed program through March 12, 2010, and expects to award grants in August.
EPA recently announced two programs that will leverage existing funding to support community sustainability efforts. The first will help pilot projects in three states—New York, Maryland, and California—to use clean water funding to support sustainability planning and implementation at the local level. The second program will offer technical assistance to five pilot brownfield redevelopment projects.
For its part, DOT has developed what it calls the Livability Initiative, through which it offers a variety of grants that support transit-oriented development, rural transit, and regional and local planning efforts. Transit options help ease congestion and lower the
transportation energy intensity
of regions—the amount of energy used by people traveling to a place (see
EBN Sept. 2007
). The Livability Initiative also includes involvement in policy and legislation efforts and coordination among DOT and other agencies to encourage development that is affordable, energy-efficient, and transit- and pedestrian-friendly.
The large amount of funding earmarked for the interagency partnership in the 2011 budget would significantly increase the reach of each agency’s programs. According to von Lehe, chances are good that Congress will approve most or all of that funding. “The Administration is talking about sustainable communities in the right way: it’s an economic development strategy,” he told
. Such funding would support not only land-use and transportation planning but likely also local and regional green building programs.
For more information:
Partnership for Sustainable Communities
April 1, 2010
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