HUD Regional Planning Grants Praised
Reconnecting America today applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) award of nearly $100 million in historic Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grants. The program is part of an unprecedented partnership announced last year between HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. These grants will allow public agencies and communities in 45 regions to plan for the integration of housing, transportation, infrastructure and environmental improvements.
“I commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Obama Administration for recognizing that the federal government needed a new approach to stimulate innovation and help jump-start regional efforts to plan for a better future," said John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America. "Federal support for coordinated, regional planning and implementation, will create more housing and transportation choices, a better quality of life, and stronger communities able to compete in a global economy.”
The Regional Planning awards build on successful efforts across the country that have brought together elected leaders, the business and civic communities, and the public to develop long-term strategies for growing their communities in a way that improves quality of life, grows local economies and improves environmental sustainability.
Reconnecting America has been engaged in supporting efforts for equitable transit-oriented development in several of the selected regions, and these awards highlight the strong local coalitions that have successfully developed the grant applications. In particular, Reconnecting America has been working with regional stakeholders in Minneapolis and St. Paul for six years helping to develop strategies and implementation tools for equitable TOD. In Boston, Reconnecting America has worked with community development corporations on developing ground-up equitable TOD around existing and planned transit corridors.
Allison Brooks, Reconnecting America's chief of staff, highlighted the diversity of places represented in the grants.
"Large and small communities, representing all corners of the country, are developing collaborative planning processes that will address the unique conditions in their region and which will improve the quality of life for the diverse people that live, work and play there," she said. “The tremendous demand for this new program shows the need to continue supporting regional innovation in coming years.”
Communities from every state in the U.S. competed for the awards announced Thursday. HUD has requested an additional $150 million in the 2011 budget to continue this program and has supported the Livable Communities Act, which would make HUD’s Sustainable Communities grant programs a more permanent part of its work.