New and expanded urban development programs included in President Obama's 2017 budget proposal

promise-zone-camdenPresident Obama in Camden, NJ in May. Camden is one of 13 Promise Zones, a program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would be expanded under the 2017 proposed budget. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, via HUD.

President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2017 federal budget yesterday, and it outlines the President’s lofty political ambitions for the coming year. The proposal focuses on five main goals: continuing the country’s economic and fiscal progress, supporting innovation, creating opportunity for all Americans, national security and global leadership, and improving how government works. Smart growth strategies play an important role in achieving several of those goals — here are some specifics of what the budget would mean for programs related to housing, urban development, and transportation.

Transportation and infrastructure take center stage in President Obama's 2016 budget proposal

2016-federal-budget

President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 federal budget yesterday, and if passed, it would be an enormous help to communities looking to grow in better, more economically vibrant ways.

Most notably the proposal includes significant investment in transportation and infrastructure programs (there’s even a photo of a bridge on the cover). Building on the Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, the budget proposes $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Transportation and sweeping improvements to its programs as part of a six-year, $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization. That would be a $176 billion increase over the last authorization, and $76 billion more than the four-years of funding proposed in the GROW AMERICA Act last spring.

What the 'cromnibus' would mean for federal community development programs

fed-budget

On Tuesday, the House released its plan to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. The bill is part omnibus, part continuing resolution—hence the nickname “cromnibus”—and sets discretionary federal spending at close to $1.01 trillion for the rest of fiscal year 2015. The House is expected to take up passage of the bill by tomorrow and the Senate is expected to follow soon after, in hopes of avoiding a potential federal shutdown when the current funding bill expires this week.

The good news is that nearly all federal community development programs would be funded as part of this bill. The bad news is that the majority of those programs would face cuts of some kind.

Planning for livable military communities in North Central Texas

north-central-texas

Near the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX, locals have a saying about the aircraft reverberations in the sky: “That noise is the sound of freedom.”

Despite the noise, the Joint Reserve Base forms a big part of the area’s identity and economy. The seven cities that surround the base—Benbrook, Fort Worth, Lake Worth, River Oaks, Sansom Park, Westworth Village, and White Settlement, TX—have a vested interest in supporting that economy, and in growing together as a region. In 2010, they came together to form the Planning for Livable Military Communities (PLMC) project, made possible by a Community Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Local leaders discuss engagement and regionalism at Leadership Academy for Sustainable Communities

4347442679_c7152948c9_z
Cable car tracks in San Francisco, CA. Image by Prayitno, via Flickr.

Last week in Oakland, CA, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council hosted a special track for local elected and appointed officials during the Leadership Academy for Sustainable Communities. Organized by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the three-day workshop emphasized implementation strategies for recently completed regional sustainability plans. One dozen communities sent teams to the event, including local leaders seeking to help their communities achieve the visions outlined in their sustainability plans.

The Local Leaders Council–hosted track focused on developing an effective policy agenda that supports regional vision, building coalitions and partnerships to help move that vision forward, and talking publically about sustainability and infrastructure issues in ways that highlight local priorities. One of the primary takeaways was the need for a big-tent approach.

“Establishing a relationship with everybody, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on, is an important step in the process,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi of Washtenaw County, MI. Leaders in the room agreed that working toward a joint regional vision requires going beyond partisan thinking and keeping focused on positive, relatable economic and quality-of-life goals.

Webinar recap: HUD's National Disaster Resilience Competition

hurricane-sandy
New York, NY’s FDR Drive after flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Photo by David Shankbone, via Flickr.

Applications are currently open for HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition, and earlier this week, Smart Growth America hosted a webinar to discuss details of this $1 billion opportunity.

If you missed the webinar, you can now view the presentation slides online. The slides include an overview of the application process by Danielle Arigoni, Deputy Director, HUD Office of Economic Resilience, and Jessie Handforth Kome, Deputy Director, HUD Office of Block Grant Assistance.

Join us to discuss HUD's new disaster resilience grants

Joplin, MO. Photo by Bob Webster via Flickr.

Communities recovering from natural disasters have an important choice: rebuild damaged areas as they were, or change investments and policies to be more resilient to future environmental and economic shocks?

This decision will impact how communities are able to recover from future disasters, and ensure that investments made today withstand the impacts that may come with climate change.

A new grant opportunity from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is designed to help communities understand the implications of these choices, and how to remain resilient in the face of natural disasters for decades to come.

Two new federal opportunities to help communities build in better ways

san-antonio-txSan Antonio, TX’s Eastside neighborhood was one of the first five designated Promise Zones. Photo by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, via Flickr.

Two new opportunities from the federal government are now open to communities and states interested in growing in more strategic, economically resilient ways.

On September 17, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new grant program to help communities rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. The National Disaster Resilience Competition will make available nearly $1 billion to support innovative resilience projects at the local level while encouraging communities to adopt policy changes and activities that plan for the impacts of extreme weather and climate change, as well as rebuild affected areas to be better prepared for the future. The opportunity is open to all communities that experienced a Presidentially declared major disaster in 2011, 2012 or 2013.

Spotlight on Sustainability: A smart growth corridor plan in North Central Massachusetts

Hmong Focus Group
A Hmong community focus group providing input for the Wachussett Smart Growth Corridor Plan.

A new smart growth corridor plan for North Central Massachusetts will set the stage for housing growth, mixed-use development, new jobs, and tourism opportunities, thanks to the combined efforts of local authorities and community leaders.

The Wachusett Smart Growth Corridor Plan is an ambitious effort to transform the North Central Massachusetts region into a destination for visitors and a transit-accessible magnet for housing and employment growth. The Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) is working to coordinate the process, with three nearby municipalities—Fitchburg, Leominster, and Westminster, MA—serving as partners.