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HUD and DOT Announce Partnership for Livable Communities Through Sustainable Transport
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood vows to make “livable communities” a priority. Photo by Daquella manera.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood vows to make “livable communities” a priority. Photo by Daquella manera.

Heard via the NRDC Switchboard:

March 18, 2008 WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a new partnership to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs. The average working American family spends nearly 60 percent of its budget on housing and transportation costs, making these two areas the largest expenses for American families. Donovan and LaHood want to seek ways to cut these costs by focusing their efforts on creating affordable, sustainable communities.

Read the full press release from the U.S. Department of Housing here.

The partnership involves the the creation of a “high-level interagency task force to better coordinate federal transportation and housing investments.”

The task force will be charged with the following:

“Every major metropolitan area in the country will conduct integrated housing, transportation, and land use planning and investment in the next four years.” HUD and DOT will seek to make planning grants available and will provide technical assistance for scenario planning.

“Develop Federal housing affordability measures that include housing, and transportation costs and other costs that affect location choices.”
(Check out our recent post about the burden of housing and transportation costs. Be sure to click on the link to a “cost calculator” created by The ULI Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing.)

“Research, evaluate and recommend measures that indicate the livability of communities, neighborhoods and metropolitan areas.” These measures would be used to inform the planning process by benchmarking existing conditions and then seeing how much progress has been made.

“HUD and DOT will work together to identify opportunities to better coordinate their programs and encourage location efficiency in housing and transportation choices.”

“Undertake joint research, data collection and outreach.”

The partnership was announced during a U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing hearing titled, “Livable Communities, Transit Oriented Development, and incorporating Green Building Practices into Federal Housing and Transportation.” (Read the full written statement of Sec. Donovan’s testimony here.)

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  • Dario Hidalgo

    This is an initiative that really goes in the right direction. Having different secreatries to deal with housing and transport (and the environment), leads to disconnected policies: housing located in low accesibility areas for transit, transit not serving the jobs-housing connections, and so on. I hope the studies that HUD will sponsor include energy and environmental considerations (local and gloabal emissions) of the different housing+transport strategies. They will be surprised how behavioural changes surpass technological approaches in helping reduce fossil fuel consumption and GHG. See, for example, this very interesting analysis sponsored by the American Public Transport Association that shows that the secondary effects of transit in increasing density and mixed use result in twice as much reductions than the primary effects of transit (reduced energy consumed by trip and less congestion). The land use-transport connection is much more powerful than just tackling the technology behind the vehicles. “To match the total effect of public transportation, the U.S. would have to plant 23.2 million acres of new forest. In other words, if the United States had no public transportation systems, it would need a new forest the size of Indiana to absorb the additional CO2 emissions from the transportation system.” concludes the study authored by Linda Bailey, Patricia L. Mokhtarian, Ph.D. and Andrew Little.