Federal Involvement in Real Estate: A Call for Examination

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 Taken together, these reforms could save the federal government an estimated $33 billion per year while updating outdated programs to achieve better … Continued

Get your copy of the 2015 LOCUS Federal Financing Toolkit

locus-toolkit-coverAs demand for walkable urban places rises across the country, real estate developers and investors are looking for ways to finance these complex projects. State and federal programs can help but understanding them all can be tough. A new resource from LOCUS provides an overview of these programs and what they can do.

The LOCUS Federal Financing Toolkit is a guide to over 40 federal financing opportunities, designed to help real estate developers and investors as well as local elected officials take advantage of these programs. The toolkit provides an overview and analysis of programs at over a dozen federal agencies, designed to support new projects related to Brownfields, Community Development, Pollution and the Environment, Housing, Transit and Transportation, and Food Access.

2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit provides private sector solutions to the affordability and social equity crisis

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx addresses the audience at the 2015 LOCUS Leadership Summit.

The fourth annual LOCUS Leadership Summit convened earlier this week at the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, bringing together 130 real estate developers and local elected officials from around the country. Attendees discussed and debated with the brightest minds in real estate, discovering private sector tools and strategies to combat the affordability and social equity crisis.

Bringing closed gas stations back to life

Old gas stations will take center stage at the New Life for Closed Gas Stations conference.
Left to right: Garage Bar, Louisville, KY; Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton, VA.

The first ever New Life for Closed Gas Stations conference begins Tuesday, June 3, in Orlando, Florida. Gas station sites may be small, but they pack a big redevelopment punch for the neighborhoods surrounding them.

The number of gas stations in the U.S. has declined every year since 2002, and there were 23% fewer places to buy gas in 2012 than there were in 1994. Typically in highly-visible locations along commercial corridors, these sites can be an asset for investors and local governments who want to make a big impression with limited redevelopment dollars. Prominent locations and interesting architecture have made old gas stations attractive to investors seeking a strong sense of place to anchor up-and-coming blocks.

Statement in response to President Obama’s call for homeownership support in the 2014 State of the Union address

Responding to President Obama’s call to keep “the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans,” Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson issued the following statement:

President Obama is doing the nation a great service by bringing attention to the urgent need to help American families invest in their first home. As he said last night, even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working hard just to get by—let alone get ahead.

Homeownership can help families build wealth and plays a significant role in the economic security of America’s middle class, but the federal government could do more to help families reach this goal.

Top 10 of 2013: Finding ways for Congress to cut costs and help American families


This month, we’re looking back at some of Smart Growth America’s brightest moments and greatest accomplishments from 2013. Today’s highlight? Our recommendations for how Congress could improve how it supports real estate while saving billions of dollars at the same time.

The federal government spends approximately $450 billion each year on programs that influence the private real estate market. From loan guarantees to commercial tax credits, these programs span multiple agencies and were created at different times for different purposes over the past several decades. Perhaps as a result, there are problems with these programs.

This hurricane season, how can the federal government improve the National Flood Insurance Program?

Sandy flooding in New Jersey
Damaged homes along the New Jersey shore after Sandy. Photo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr.

When communities are hit by a hurricane or flooding, the National Flood Insurance Program helps families recover and rebuild. Changes to the program proposed by Smart Growth America—and supported by the Obama Administration—could help homeowners reduce their flood risk and cut costs for the federal government at the same time.

Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding, and the National Flood Insurnce Program (NFIP) is a supplemental insurance offered by FEMA to protect families financially from flood damage. Many NFIP plan members pay highly subsidized rates that do not reflect the true risk of flooding or the costs associated with it, and these subsidies have contributed to increased development in flood hazard areas, putting more people and property at risk. All this has come at a high cost to taxpayers: The program is currently almost $24 billion in debt to the Department of Treasury.

Senators introduce bi-partisan legislation that would improve the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

American Brewing Building, Baltimore, MD
The American Brewery Building in Baltimore, MD, was redeveloped with the help of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Photo via the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In June Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced S. 1141 The Creating American Prosperity Through Preservation (CAPP) Act, a bill that would encourage developers to invest in and restore historic buildings by updating the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.

Since its inception in 1976, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program has leveraged more than $106 billion of private-sector investment to preserve and rehabilitate more than 38,000 historic properties. The credit program has rehabilitated more than 75,000 low- and moderate-income housing units. In fact, nearly 75 percent of Historic Tax Credit projects are in low-income areas.