HUD's Sustainable Communities grants are helping communities – and getting an impressive return on investment

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) has already helped hundreds of towns and cities across the country become economically stronger, environmentally sustainable, and more inclusive through its workshops, technical resources and grant programs. As a new report explains, these programs are also making the most of federal investments.

OSHC’s 2011 accomplishments update explains that the Office’s 152 grants in 48 states, totaling $240 million, generated almost $253 million in private investments and commitments from local partners. The Sustainable Communities grants, one of the major grant programs administered by the Office, generated $115 million in matching and in-kind contributions – more than 120% of the original $95.8 million invested.

The Office’s accomplishments report is a compendium of some of the most interesting smart growth projects in the works today.


Partnership in the News: Granite State Future ramps up community engagement outreach

Nine of New Hampshire’s planning commissions coordinated together to apply for a Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They won a $3.37 million grant to coordinate their planning efforts for the state’s future, forming Granite State Future.

One of the first truly state-wide planning efforts, Granite State represents the desire for people across the state to work together to solve regional issues and ensure economic vitality and a better quality of life for all. Part of the effort involves a robust online community engagement effort.

“The foundation of this plan is what people want in their communities,” says project manager Jeff Belanger, “We want all views represented.”

The next step for the project is to put together their online data and proceed to public meetings to present ideas before communities across the state. They hope to be finished before the grant ends in 2015.


Local Leaders Council Advisory Board Member Madeline Rogero highlighted for Knoxville's success

According to a recent report from the Brookings Institute, only three major U.S. cities are currently experiencing a recovery. One of those cities, Knoxville, TN, has seen a steady recovery under Local Leaders Council Advisory Board Member Mayor Madeline Rogero.

Retailers moving into old downtown buildings, an abundance of freshly planted greenspaces, and a stream of new jobs in Knoxville, Tennessee, are all signs to Mayor Madeline Rogero that for the last year prosperity has been blooming in her city.

“We feel very good about how we’re coming out of this recession,” Rogero said. “We see new interest. We see new development that’s occurring. We’re optimistic that this recovery is going to continue.”

Rogero has only been in office for a year. But she remembers, as a resident and as director of the city’s community development office, when the recession hit. Sales tax revenues fell. The building inspections department that had always funded itself from fees had to tap the city budget.

“People were losing their jobs. People were losing their homes,” she said.

Nonetheless, the city continued investing in infrastructure and fostering private investment, often using funds from the 2009 federal stimulus plan. The goals were to attract businesses and to keep people working on construction jobs such as a housing project for the elderly.

Smart Growth America is proud to be working with Mayor Rogero as Knoxville continues to thrive.


Smart Growth News – November 30, 2012

Today’s stories:

Michigan Transit Authority Legislation Clears State Senate, Moves To House

Huffington Post – November 29, 2012
Public transportation advocates are turning up the heat on lobbying efforts after the state Senate approved a bundle of legislation that would create Southeast Michigan’s first Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in history.

Shuster Won’t Rule Out Raising Gasoline Tax for Roads

Business Week – November 28, 2012
Increasing the U.S. gasoline tax and instituting a levy based on miles driven should be options to pay for highway spending as cars become more fuel efficient, said Representative Bill Shuster, who will be the top House member overseeing federal transportation policy.

Smart Growth Summit tips for Baton Rouge include public transit, economic development ideas

NOLA News – November 28, 2012
Experts from across the country came to Baton Rouge over the last few days to discuss better strategies for community planning at the Louisiana Smart Growth Summit. At the end of the three-day event Wednesday, attendees said a few concepts stood out as particularly relevant to Baton Rouge.

Recount for Alameda County transportation sales tax increase

San Jose Mercury News (CA) – November 29, 2012
A recount of votes will be done on an Alameda County transportation sales tax measure that narrowly lost at the polls. Measure B1 would have raised an existing half-cent transportation sales tax to a full cent and raised nearly $8 billion over three decades for roads, freeways and public transit.


Smart Growth News – November 29, 2012

Today’s stories:

Six Transportation Policy Questions as 2013 Approaches
Governing – November 28, 2012
The transportation community is trying to figure out what, exactly, this month’s election means. MAP-21, the highway and transit bill Congress passed this summer, isn’t set to expire until 2014. But state and local transportation officials, along with other stakeholders and advocates, continue to stress that they’re already looking at how to make their case for a robust bill.

Some say add fee to energy production
Politico – November 28, 2012
With pencils being sharpened on a debt deal, all eyes are on the gas tax as a possible savior for transportation spending. But another option that may cause lawmakers less heartburn is being obscured by the gas tax dust: linking energy production with infrastructure spending.

Amtrak defends plan to get back on track
USA Today – November 28, 2012
Amtrak continues to rely on government subsidies but served more travelers in the past year than ever before and posted record ticket revenues, its leader told lawmakers Wednesday.

Home, squeezed home: Living in a 200-square-foot space
Washington Post – November 27, 2012
Step into an alleyway in the Northeast Washington neighborhood known as Stronghold, and you will see a vegetable patch, a campfire, a view of the Capitol and a cluster of what neighbors call “those tiny people, building their tiny houses.”


Complete Streets News, November 2012

Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition work every day to create great places that support local economies. With your help, we can build on the incredible successes of 2012 and make cities, towns, and neighborhoods across the country even better in 2013.

Help us build places where families and businesses can thrive: donate to Smart Growth America today.

Thank you.

Policy Adoption

Hailey, Idaho, a community of almost 8,000, adopted new street design standards to ensure that all streets within the city are designed and constructed to “appropriately address multi-modal needs and enable safe access for all users in a context sensitive manner.”

Middle Township, New Jersey joins the over 35 communities in New Jersey that have adopted a Complete Streets policy. The Township Committee approved a resolution on October 15, 2012.

Complete Streets

The seven most innovative development projects – and policies – in the country

The BLVD in Lancaster, California is one of seven communities being honored this year by the EPA. Photo by Charlie Essers via Flickr.

What do a boulevard in California, a Denver neighborhood, new zoning ordinances in Virginia and an organic food co-op in Vermont all have in common?

They are all being honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The seven winning communities – including four winners and three honorable mentions – were announced this morning.


Smart Growth News – November 28, 2012

Today’s stories:

Local officials “thumbing nose” at Maryland growth limits, group says
Baltimore Sun (MD) – November 27, 2012
A conservation group is warning that many of Maryland’s counties are skirting a new state law requiring them to rein in development of rural lands. 1000 Friends of Maryland says that more than a third of the state’s 23 counties have done little or nothing so far to comply with the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, which aims to restrict new housing on septic systems in rural areas.

City may cut parking spots in Downtown Brooklyn
New York Daily News – November 26, 2012
The City Council is considering a plan that would ease the amount of parking developers are required to build at the residential buildings that are sprouting up in the neighborhood which is bounded by Tillary St., Flatbush and Atlantic Aves., and Clinton and Court Sts.

Mayor Reed: High-speed rail to Savannah would create “trail of prosperity”
Atlanta Business Chronicle (GA) – November 27, 2012
In the past several weeks, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been floating a grand new vision for Georgia — connecting Atlanta and Savannah with high-speed rail, reports Maria Saporta of “We can create a trail of prosperity between those two regions,” Reed said last week during a talk at The Commerce Club.

State DOT to review alternatives to Skyway
Buffalo News (NY) – November 26, 2012
The state Department of Transportation appears ready to support the removal of a nearly 1.5-mile elevated highway, which was built in the middle of the last century and is now considered functionally obsolete, structurally deficient and potentially susceptible to fractures. The removal is seen by advocates as a catalyst for economic development and rebirth.