Welcome to the coalition: Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation


Smart Growth America is proud to welcome Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation to our coalition of state and national allied organizations.

Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation is a national non-profit organization formed to create and preserve affordable multifamily housing for low-income families throughout the United States. Rainbow renovates and rehabilitate housing that will be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization.

Formed in 2002, Rainbow creates and preserves affordable housing for families throughout the United States. The organization renovates and rehabilitates distressed properties with the goal of being a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Rainbow has successfully turned around formerly distressed properties, preserving affordable housing opportunities for thousands of low-income households.

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Over 50 national organizations voice support for 2012 funding of Partnership for Sustainable Communities

With Congress currently debating the federal budget for fiscal year 2012, over fifty national organizations have once again come together in support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. By issuing this joint letter to leadership in both the House and Senate, Smart Growth America and our partner organizations have sent the message to Congress that we support the Partnership’s programs that help rebuild local economies, make the most of federal investments and build strong, healthy, and vibrant communities.


The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
United States Capitol, Room S-128
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Committee
United States Capitol, Room S-206
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Patty Murray
Subcommittee Chair
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies
133 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Susan Collins
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies
123 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Inouye, Ranking Member Cochran, Subcommittee Chair Murray, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Collins:

As Congress considers the fiscal year 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations, we, the undersigned group of concerned organizations, urge you to support the programs that help communities across America rebuild their local economies and improve their fiscal stability.

We urge you to support the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and related grant programs in the fiscal year 2012 T-HUD Appropriations Bill. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities helps community leaders get the most out of each federal or state dollar invested in their neighborhoods. These programs make federal investments go even further by helping local leaders leverage private sector investment, save money in municipal budgets, and help families with housing and transportation costs – all while creating jobs.

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A Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development

You may know LEED as a program that evaluates and certifies green buildings across the country. Now, a new guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council takes the green certification concept beyond individual buildings and applies it to the neighborhood context.

A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development is a hands-on introduction for local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and just about anyone interested in making our communities better and greener. The guide is user-friendly and accessible, to help anyone learn about environmental standards for green land development and become an advocate for implementing these standards in their own communities.

Following two short introductory sections (“How to Use This Guide” and “What is a Sustainable Neighborhood?”), the Guide identifies key concepts for neighborhood sustainability, referencing the LEED-ND credits and prerequisites that inform each. The Guide includes creative suggestions to help users get started using LEED-ND’s diverse standards in their own communities, as well as a “Sustainable Neighborhood Development Checklist.” The checklist is a sort of crib sheet for every LEED-ND credit and prerequisite, presenting them in an easy-to-use format for evaluating development proposals, assessing existing neighborhoods, and informing community planning and policy.

The Citizen’s Guide empowers you, the citizen, to provide innovative ways to improve your own community and promote greater widespread adoption of sustainable practices in more inclusive, healthy, and environmentally sound places for everyone.

Download A Citizen’s Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development at NRDC.org.

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National experts advise the Christie Administration on state strategic planning

Crossposted from Smart Growth America’s coalition partner, New Jersey Future.

Last week, the Christie administration hosted a Governors’ Institute on Community Design workshop to explore advancing a state strategic plan that focuses on economic development and the importance of location. The event was a milestone in the administration’s state strategic planning project, which is developing recommendations for how to prioritize and support sustainable economic growth.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno along with cabinet members and other state officials attended the day-and-a-half long workshop. Visiting speakers included Doug Foy, President, Serrafix and former secretary of Commonwealth Development in Massachusetts; Mitch Silver, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Raleigh, North Carolina; and Daniel Hernandez, Managing Director of the Planning Practice at Jonathan Rose Companies. Kicking off the event were GICD Chair and former Maryland Governor Glendenning and former New Jersey Governor and GICD co-chair Christine Todd Whitman.

“Governor Christie was pleased to host the Governor’s Institute on Community Design, “said Wayne Hasenbalg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for the Christie Administration. “This Administration is taking a thoughtful approach to economic development that includes looking at the most efficient places to direct growth.”

The administration is expected to finalize recommendations to the Governor in July. For more information about these and other workshops, visit the Governors’ Institute on Community Design.

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Pending legislation in New York could help reclaim vacant properties and revitalize neighborhoods

Across the country, communities fighting to stay one step ahead of the foreclosure crisis are struggling with abandoned and vacant properties that lower surrounding property values, cut into local tax revenues, attract crime, and perpetuate a cycle of disinvestment. New York State is one of the places this battle is being waged, and Smart Growth America along with our coalition partner Empire State Future have been working to support a bill that could help.

New Yorkers! Tell the New York State Legislature to support the Land Bank Act: speak out today.

New York’s Land Bank Act (A00373, S663) would give New York jurisdictions the option to create a local entity to hold and manage problem properties and return them to productive use. In doing so the Act would bolster local economies and increase the safety, health, and vitality of struggling neighborhoods. In addition to these benefits, the bill is also revenue neutral and would achieve its aims without any added burden on New York taxpayers.

A recent op-ed in the Times Union by Empire State Future explains the benefits of creating land banks:

Land banks are able to acquire property, clear titles and dispose of land so the parcels again generate tax revenue. The best national example is the Genesee County Land Bank in Flint, Mich., a city of 102,000 people, down from 190,000 in 1960. This organization, formed in 2002, has developed innovative programs to facilitate the reuse of more than 4,000 formerly vacant and abandoned properties including side-lot transfer (more than 200 parcels), community gardens, housing rehabilitation and foreclosure avoidance (serving more than 1,300 families). Since its inception, this land bank has helped real property values in Flint to increase by more than $100 million.

The Land Bank Act could help make New York’s cities and towns more attractive for workers and businesses, and provide them with walkable communities close to shops, services and low-cost transportation choices. Land banks have been proven effective in other states and cities and have helped to revitalize many communities. New York today has towns, cities and counties that could turn their distressed spaces into valuable assets, but they need the power to do so.

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Call for entries: Pennsylvania's 2011 Commonwealth Awards


Crossposted from Smart Growth America’s coalition partner organization 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania.

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is now accepting submissions for the 2011 Commonwealth Awards. The Commonwealth Awards honor Pennsylvania projects that incorporate smart land use, smart design, and smart growth principles, as well as individuals who have contributed to smart growth. Through these awards, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania aims to raise awareness of projects that successfully demonstrate sound land use principles around the Commonwealth – projects that are development or redevelopment; in settings from urban to suburban to rural. The 2011 winners will be announced at a program on September 20, 2011 at the Hilton Harrisburg Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Design award guidelines: for smart growth projects in Pennsylvania
Eligible projects must be located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the project must have been built or been under construction after January 1, 2008. In addition to one grand Gold Award winner, Silver Awards, Bronze Awards and Commendations may also be granted to projects under construction or proposed after January 1, 2008. Multi-phase projects may be evaluated and awarded based upon achievements during a specific phase. The resubmission of projects is encouraged.

Project submissions may include, but are not limited to, these project types:

  • Adaptive reuse and redevelopment
  • Brownfield re-development
  • Infill development
  • Revitalization projects
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Mixed-use development
  • Mixed income development
  • Traditional neighborhood development
  • Town center development
  • Responsible greenfield development
  • Innovative new development – residential, commercial, industrial, recreational
  • Green/performance buildings part of and located within a type of development project listed above
  • Public building part of and located within a type of development project listed above
  • Multi-municipal plan or regional land use plan
  • Master or Site plan for a type of development project listed above
  • Individual award guidelines: nominate a smart growth champion
    Nominations are also invited to acknowledge Pennsylvanians who contribute to smart growth. Nominations are accepted in two categories: Contribution by a Citizen, and Contribution by a Public Official. Recipients will be cited for their direct contributions to smart growth and for their positive and valuable influence on their community, constituents, and peers.

    How to enter
    Visit 10000friends.org to read the full guidelines and to download the entry forms. Entries should be submitted to: Commonwealth Awards, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, 200 N 3rd Street, 4th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Entries are due no later than June 15, 2011.

    How to Enter the 2011 Commonwealth Awards.

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    Working for better transportation options in Washington state

    A new campaign in Washington is fighting to improve transportation for people across the state. Transportation for Washington, a project launched this week by Smart Growth America’s coalition partners Futurewise and the Transportation Choices Coalition, is calling for better repair and maintenance of roads across the state as well as more transportation choices for Washingtonians. These transportation spending strategies – which are in line with many of Smart Growth America’s recent recommendations for Washington – create jobs, spur economic growth and improve Washington’s transportation system at the same time.

    Roger Millar, Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, discussed these same issues with Ross Reynolds on KUOW-94.9 Seattle’s The Conversation earlier this week. Together with Mike Ennis, Director of the Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center, Millar discussed the state of Washington’s transportation system and how the state can get more out of their transportation dollars:

    Funding for public transportation is currently a hot topic in Washington state. A bill recently introduced to the state legislature would allow local transit agencies to seek funding to finance public transit projects. According to the Washington Transportation Commission, Washington currently has over $200 billion in unfunded transportation projects – and that need is growing.

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    Chicago's Regional Planning Gets Boost from HUD Grant

    The following is a guest post from SGA coalition partner Center for Neighborhood Techology, and is part of an ongoing series about winners of the 2010 Partnership for Sustainable Communities federal grants. If your organization applied for, considered applying for or was awarded one of these grants, we want to hear about your experience! Tell us about it here.

    Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning recently won a $4.25 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin making the Agency’s ambitious long-range development plans a reality. Chicago’s GO TO 2040 plan aims to create a stronger regional economy for the Chicago area by way of more livable communities, improved government efficiency and better transportation options for residents. The HUD grant award will help communities put those plans in to action.

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    Smart Growth America Applauds National Transportation Equity Coalition

    As co-chair of the Transportation for America campaign, Smart Growth America is proud to help launch the nation’s leading civil rights, community development, racial justice, economic justice, faith-based, health, housing, labor, environmental justice, tribal, and transportation organizations to create the Equity Caucus at Transportation for America. Transportation is a crucial part of the path to … Continued

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