Today, Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, putting him at the helm of the federal agency that oversees home mortgage lending practices and other housing-related programs.
To Secretary Carson we say congratulations. America’s housing and community development policies have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans, and in your new position you have a unique and valuable opportunity to improve this country.
Smart Growth America and LOCUS are looking forward to working with Secretary Carson. He is an unconventional choice for this position, but can bring fresh eyes and renewed energy to the department. Under Secretary Carson HUD has the potential to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and address America’s housing affordability crisis. We believe the private sector can and should play a significant role in that work, and welcome a chance to collaborate.
Smart Growth America and its coalition of real estate developers and investors LOCUS, which represents private-sector development interests from across the United States, present a series of reforms to federal real estate programs. Taken together, these reforms could save the federal government an estimated $33 billion per year while updating outdated programs to achieve better … Continued
On December 18, President Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government until September 30, 2016. This funding will support many federal programs that build more equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities nationwide. Here’s what the bill contains for smart growth-related programs. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development … Continued
Attendees at the housing choices track at the Local Leaders Council’s Policy Forum 2015.
In May, local leaders from across the country came together for the Local Leaders Council’s Policy Forum 2015, a two-day summit in Washington, DC on healthy neighborhoods, expanding housing choices, and downtown revitalization. We’ve written previously about the Forum’s discussions of downtown revitalization and walkable design and economic development. This post takes a closer look at the Forum’s discussions around expanding housing choices.
Accessory Dwelling Units, such as this one in Northern California, can provide affordable housing and rental income for homeowners. Photo via Forbes.
Creating affordable rental housing in a community is often a long and arduous process. One strategy to combat this is for cities to allow the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) through amended zoning codes. ADUs, also known as “granny flats” are small apartments built on a property with a preexisting home as the primary structure. Units typically function as studio apartments and tend to accommodate one or two people. ADUs can allow for seniors to age in place, provide homeowners with extra rental income, and fill a gap in affordable rental units.
Rockville Town Square in Rockville, MD. Photo by Dan Reed via flickr.
Located just outside Washington, DC to the northwest, suburban Rockville, MD is one of the largest municipalities in Maryland with a population just over 63,000. Rockville serves as the county seat of Montgomery County—the largest county in Maryland by population, with over 1 million residents.
Rockville’s Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to use transit access to help make Rockville a place with a unique identity and a strong sense of community. “Being a suburb of Washington, DC, we are struggling with traffic congestion and other issues that come with rapid growth and redevelopment,” she says. “A lot of it is just managing those things in a way that we are maintaining a good quality of life with nice neighborhoods where people can enjoy open space and parkland, while trying to envision a future where people may be using their cars less and people will be walking more and able to ride their bikes.”
This week, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a program of Smart Growth America, announced a three-part national strategy to address housing and social equity calling upon developers to join them in the cause. The proposed initiative would be centered around new conscious place-based social equity metrics.
The announcement came Tuesday during the third annual Walkable Urban Places Conference, co-hosted by Urban Land Institute Washington and the George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. LOCUS sponsored the event along with Venable LLP.
How does a community pursue smart growth in underserved neighborhoods where infrastructure problems, concentration of poverty and concerns about gentrification and displacement abound? Two-dozen leaders from diverse communities discussed this very question during the Local Leaders Policy Forum, held on June 16th in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, MD shared her experience from living in several different cities over the years. “Gentrification and displacement are real, not perceived, concerns,” said Goodall. “Lower income and minority families can be very vulnerable to neighborhood changes that drive up costs even moderately. As leaders, we cannot overlook that threat.”
Downtown Hagerstown, MD. Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr.
David Gysberts, Mayor of Hagerstown, MD, and an Advisory Board member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is looking to revitalize downtown Hagerstown while preserving its historic character.
“Hagerstown used to be a huge manufacturing town. You name it, we made it,” says Mayor Gysberts. “We still have that hardworking attitude coming from our history of being the home of entrepreneurs and industry.” Mayor Gysberts brings that attitude to Hagerstown’s revitalization efforts, working to reduce commercial and residential vacancies and promote homeownership in the city center.