The House introduced its FY2018 THUD spending bill. Here’s what’s in it.

On July 10, the House Appropriations Committee introduced its version of the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill. The bill includes funding for the Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other related agencies. In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $56.5 billion in discretionary spending — $1.1 billion below fiscal year 2017 levels and $8.6 billion above the President’s request.

Advocacy LOCUS

Welcome to HUD, Secretary Carson

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.

LOCUS

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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Planning for livable military communities in North Central Texas

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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.

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

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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.

Local Leaders Council

Webinar recap: HUD's National Disaster Resilience Competition

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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.

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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.

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