What smart growth advocates need to know about the omnibus appropriations bill

Congress
Last night, Congress released a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014, which lays out funding for agencies and their programs working to help communities build in smarter, stronger ways.

The bill contains many high points for smart growth advocates, and if you were one of the many people who encouraged Congress to pass a strong appropriations bill in the past few days, thank you. Your voices were heard!

Uncategorized

Congress is nearing a budget deal – speak out today

This is a crucial time for national community development programs.

Today, committees in both the House and Senate are working on bills to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year—including key programs at the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. How much these programs receive in the coming year is currently under debate.

The bills will soon go to a vote, and so now is the time to speak out for these important programs.

Tell Congress to support community development in this year’s budget: Send a letter to your representatives today.

Together we can help communities clean up brownfields, reuse already developed land, revitalize neighborhoods and expand transportation options.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ planning grants, brownfields assessment and clean up assistance, and the innovative TIGER program are all critical to this work. These programs get more out of public investment and help communities build in ways that will support local economies for decades to come—but Congress needs to hear from you.

Tell Congress to fund community development programs: Send a letter to your members today.

Uncategorized

New tool reveals combined costs of housing and transportation in regions across the country

Housing and transportation costs nationwide

How much does housing and transportation cost your family each month? These two items are typically a family’s largest expenses. Together they take up almost half of the average household’s budget, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). How does your family’s housing and transportation costs compare to the rest of the region? And how would living in a different neighborhood or commuting in different ways affect your monthly budget? A new tool is designed to help you find out.

Uncategorized

Spotlight on Sustainability: Burlington, VT gets creative with its comprehensive plan

burlington-vt2
Downtown Burlington, VT.

Burlington, VT’s new comprehensive plan, PlanBTV, looks more like a magazine than a technical planning document. Based on extensive community input, the plan establishes a clear and comprehensive vision for how Burlington’s downtown and core neighborhoods should continue to evolve.

Burlington is located at the heart of the largest urbanized area in Vermont, and is the region’s principal economic and cultural engine. It is home to the University of Vermont and major employers including Burton Snowboards and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. When City leaders began considering how and where the city should grow in coming years, they knew they would need a plan to make sure that growth benefitted the community as much as possible.

Uncategorized

Spotlight on Sustainability: Maryland capitalizes on grant, plans growth around Metro stations

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 9.59.18 AM
The southern expansion of the Washington, D.C. Metro green line opened in 2001 – costing over $900 million. Prince Georges County, Maryland, seeking to capitalize on the existing transit system developed a corridor action plan that incorporates transit oriented development around four southern green line stations; Southern Ave, Suitland, Naylor Rd. and Branch Ave.

With an annual ridership of over 200 million trips the Metro system is an invaluable asset to spur future growth in the DC metropolitan region. Job and housing growth was higher in the area along the southern green line than it was along any other transit line in the DC metro system between 2000-2010.

The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) capitalized on the growth potential of the southern green line with an $800,000 Community Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop the corridor action plan.

Complete Streets

Partnership in the News: Planning for transit-oriented development in St. Louis, MO

Transit-oriented development in St. Louis
St. Louis hopes to spur growth around existing transit hubs including MetroLink stations (pictured above). Photo via OneSTL.

Building near transportation hubs can create vibrant new places to live and work while supporting job growth and economic development. St. Louis, MO is working to use this smart growth strategy, and a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is helping make their vision a reality.

In 2010 the East-West Gateway Council of Governments was awarded a $4.7 million Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create OneSTL, a regional plan for sustainable development. The St. Louis Development Corporation, CORTEX and the Missouri Botanical Garden also joined the effort with additional funding for the project.

Uncategorized

Spotlight on Sustainability: Sustainable development plan brings new life to Augusta, GA

15th St., August, GA.
Community meetings helped inform this rendering for proposed improvements along August, GA’s 15th Street corridor, including landscaped median, bike lanes, and tree-lined sidewalks. Image via the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program.

Augusta, GA, is reinvesting in its downtown and a 4.5 mile corridor along 15th Street, thanks in part to a 2010 Community Challenge grant from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Downtown Augusta today is home to many empty storefronts and vacant houses, starting at an empty shopping mall in the Rocky Creek neighborhood and running along Deans Bridge Road up to 15th Street in Cherry Tree. The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program is working to transform these struggling neighborhoods and spur economic development in Augusta’s downtown. The Program focuses on four areas along the corridor: Rocky Creek, Southgate, Oates Creek and Cherry Tree. Each community has unique needs, and concept plans have been developed for each neighborhood through input from community residents.

Uncategorized

Upcoming Webinars: September 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders. Building Vibrant Local Economies: Diversifying local economies to strengthen county resilience Thursday, September 12, 2013 2:00 PM Eastern Click here to register Many rural places grew around a single industry, such as agriculture or manufacturing. … Continued

Uncategorized

Rethink Real Estate: Reform the Federal Housing Administration’s Single Family Home Program

HUD Headquarters in Washington, DC
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington DC. Photo by Ryan Orr via Flickr.

This is the second in a series of posts discussing recommendations from our new platform Federal Investment in Real Estate: A Call for Action. The series highlights what is lacking in current federal real estate policy and how our recommended improvements could generate better returns for families, communities and taxpayers.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has helped millions of families purchase their homes, and ensures mortgages are widely available during times of economic distress when banks and other financial institutions tighten lending standards. As the housing market rebounds, however, it’s time to refocus this program on its original mission.

LOCUS

Partnership for Sustainable Communities celebrates 4 years of work in Asheville, NC

Speakers in Ashveille, NC
From left: Land-Of-Sky Regional Council Executive Director Joe McKinney, Congressman Heath Shuler and HUD Regional Field Director Christian Stearns. Photo via City of Asheville

The City of Asheville, the Land-of-Sky Regional Council and federal partners gathered in North Carolina last week to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities – a collaboration between the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency that helps communities across the country develop in more economically sustainable ways through the exchange of ideas, planning tools and public engagement.

Uncategorized