The White House made a bold statement earlier this week, taking on the outdated zoning codes and laws, housing and parking regulations, and tax structures that all play a part in discouraging cities — and developers — from building more affordable housing and meeting the demand for more walkable, connected neighborhoods. Because of the way … Continued
President 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.
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.
In reaction to President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors Director Christopher Coes issued the following statement:
“We applaud the President for recognizing the need to address comprehensive tax reform and invest America’s transportation and infrastructure now. Today, Americans are voting with their feet by seeking out neighborhoods that are walkable, economically accessible and culturally vibrant. Many, however, are feeling the squeeze in their search for affordable housing and transportation options in great, walkable neighborhoods.
San 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.
Today, President Obama announced the launch of the Build America Investment Initiative, a new government-wide initiative to invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure by expanding opportunities for the public and private sectors to partner and better leverage each other’s resources to grow jobs and strengthen the economy.
In addition, the initiative will create the Build America Transportation Investment Center within the US Department of Transportation, tasked with providing cities and states with both the tools and other forms of technical assistance needed to create innovative financing solutions such as TIFIA to fund transportation infrastructure improvements and the support necessary to remove regulatory barriers that prevent the public and private sectors from collaborating on ways to fund infrastructure.
Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?
The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.
First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.
Earlier today President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015, focusing on economic growth, job creation for the middle class, and fiscal responsibility.
An important part of the administration’s priorities includes improving infrastructure and investing in urban and community development. Three federal agencies carry the brunt of that workload, and here is how the president’s proposal would affect each of them.
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.
Later today at the White House, President Obama will announce the first ever Promise Zone communities.
Promise Zones explore new strategies to bolster local economies. From education to housing to job creation, the program helps communities find creative solutions to their challenges—and that’s something every town and city can learn from.
Today, Congress is debating whether communities will be able to keep doing this work.
The House and the Senate are still negotiating fiscal year 2014’s federal budget—including important programs that support community development.
Promise Zones are just one of the many federal initiatives that could be hampered—or eliminated—when Congress reaches a final budget deal.
San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma—the first five Promise Zone communities—will get new resources to help them grow stronger from the ground up.
Federal programs have helped hundreds of other communities—and can help hundreds more—but Congress needs to hear from you to make it happen. Take a minute and send a letter today.