Biden Equity Action Plan impacts on housing and land use

The Biden Administration showcased its intentions to embed equity throughout the federal government with the recent release of the first-ever Equity Actions Plans for over 90 federal agencies. The plans detail department-specific goals and operational priorities to improve the delivery of equitable outcomes for all Americans through systemic reforms and investments in historically underserved communities. The actions proposed in these plans will have broad impacts on land use, infrastructure investment, housing, and regional planning.

In a new memo series, LOCUS, a program of Smart Growth America, has summarized key takeaways from the Equity Action Plans that are most relevant to the real estate, land use, and transportation sectors. Highlights include:

Measuring equity impacts of land use and transportation policies,

  • Assess the environmental and economic effects of public building footprints by using a community assessment protocol [General Services Administration]
  • Develop a metric for measuring transportation cost burdens per individual or household and use that system to guide future policy and decision making for more equitable outcomes [US DOT]

Advancing environmental justice & brownfield redevelopment

  • Expedite the cleanup process of Superfund sites and tackle the nearly 50 backlogged brownfield sites through a $1 billion investment from the Infrastructure Law [US Environmental Protection Agency]
  • Help environmental justice communities and communities with historical ties to fossil fuel industries access the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy and clean energy manufacturing through the Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) Pilot program [Department of Energy]

Improving financial tools and opportunities for homeownership

  • Increase opportunities for small-dollar mortgage loans and expand access to financing for affordable and diverse housing types [HUD]
  • Close the racial homeownership gap through new programs and partnerships, such as working with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to remove potential biases in FHA programs, enhancing outreach to nontraditional lenders [HUD]
  • Reduce the flood insurance financial gap through direct flood insurance assistance capacity-building efforts to increase pathways for homeownership, especially for disaster survivors [FEMA]
  • Improve the efficiency of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to deliver more funding streams and capital for the development of affordable rental housing [HUD]

Prepare for the current and future effects of climate change

  • Create a new Weatherization Readiness fund and a competitive grant program that makes funding available to all grantees and low-income households [Department of Energy]
  • Refine the recently launched Community Resilience Estimates (CRE) for Equity, a tool that measures an individual, household, or community’s capacity to absorb, endure, and recover from the socioeconomic impacts of a disaster [Department of Commerce]
  • Support historically marginalized vulnerable communities to better prepare for and anticipate natural disasters through technical assistance and capacity-building programs, aligning with Justice40 initiatives [FEMA]

You can find LOCUS’ full summaries of the Biden Administration’s Equity Action Plans that are relevant to land use, housing, and transportation here: