Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

The Livable Communities Act: Section-by-Section Analysis

This is suppliemental info for the article The Livable Communities Act: Creating Better And More Affordable Places To Live, Work And Raise Families by Mariia Zimmerman

Section 1.  Table of Contents.  This section provides the Short Title of the bill as “The Livable Communities Act of 2009” and a Table of Contents.

Section 2. Findings.   This section provides Congressional findings with regard to this legislation.

Section 3.  Purposes.   This Section states the purposes of the Act, which include: improving the coordination of housing, community development, transportation, energy, and environmental policy in the United States; coordinating Federal policies and investments to promote sustainable development; and encouraging comprehensive regional planning for livable communities and the adoption of sustainable development.

Section 4. Definitions. This section provides definitions for terms used within the bill.

Section 5.  Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.  This section establishes an Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The Office will partner with communities to assist local planning and sustainable development efforts.  It will also help foster energy-efficient housing to improve the environment and save consumers’ and taxpayers’ money. As a resource for technical assistance and information, the Office will ensure that communities learn from each other’s successes.

The Office shall: coordinate Federal policies that foster sustainable development and administer HUD initiatives on this topic; conduct and recommend HUD research on sustainability; implement grant programs created by this act; provide guidance, best practices and technical assistance to communities seeking to adopt sustainable development policies and practices; and coordinate with other agencies on sustainability.   The Office must coordinate with members of the Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities created by Sec. 6 in the implementation of grants authorized by the Act.

Section 6.  Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities.  This section establishes an Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities, which will bring together the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, to coordinate federal policies regarding sustainable development; coordinate and provide federal sustainability research; provide design and implementation guidance for Livable Communities grants; identify barriers to sustainable development and identify remedies to such barriers; and promote better coordination of transportation, housing, community development, energy, and environmental policies

Section 7.   Comprehensive Planning Grant Program.  This section authorizes $400 million over four years for competitive grants to help communities develop comprehensive regional plans that incorporate transportation, housing, community development, economic development, energy, and environmental needs and goals.  Grantees must demonstrate a commitment to integrated planning and implementing sustainable development. Communities may also use funds to develop goals and concrete strategies for carrying out their regional plans and to make zoning and other code changes necessary to facilitate sustainable development. 

Consortia of local governments working with a metropolitan planning organization, rural planning organization, or regional council may apply for these grants.  Applicants must solicit public comment and agree to establish an advisory group with representatives of public-, private- and non-profit sector organizations and the public to inform their plans.  

Sec. 8.   Challenge Grant Program.  This section authorizes $3.75 billion over three years for competitive grants to assist communities in carrying out sustainable development projects outlined in their comprehensive regional plans.   Eligible activities include: investment in transit-oriented development; affordable housing; public transportation infrastructure and facilities; pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfares; redevelopment of brownfields; and projects to spur economic development.