The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will invest an additional $67 million towards creating stronger and more sustainable communities through its Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. This will be the second round of grants. The program is an effort to connect housing to jobs while fostering local innovation and building a clean energy economy.
The grants are meant for multi-jurisdictional and multi-sector partnerships, as well as regional consortia consisting of state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, educational institutions, non-profit and philanthropic organizations. But partnerships are not limited to the groupings mentioned above. Collaborations of the arts and culture, philanthropy and all other innovative idea that can foster sustainable regional planning processes are also welcome to apply for grants.
The grant program is part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities efforts, an interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009 that brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and HUD. The partnership is part of an effort to break the traditional boundaries between federal departments and allow them to interweave their multiple resources in transportation, environment and housing to create both livable and sustainable communities. The partnership operates under six principles:
1. Provide more transportation choices.
Develop safe, reliable and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public health.
2. Promote equitable, affordable housing.
Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
3. Enhance economic competitiveness.
Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers as well as expanded business access to markets.
4. Support existing communities.
Target federal funding toward existing communities—through such strategies as transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling—to increase community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works investments, and safeguard rural landscapes.
5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment.
Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
6. Value communities and neighborhoods.
Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.
This year’s grant program encourages applicants to think in terms of regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic development, infrastructure and, of course, transportation. The purpose of the grant is to empower regions to consider how all of these factors work together to bring economic competitiveness and revitalization to a community.
“On the heels of the second anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities these grants will further the Obama Administration’s commitment to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment and people’s health,” explained Secretary Shaun Donovan.
There are two funding categories for the grant program as explained by HUD:
- Category 1 Funds: Can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for sustainable development
- Category 2 Funds: Can be used to support efforts to modify existing regional plans so that they are in accordance with the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ six Livability Principles. Category 2 Funds also may be used to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted regional plan for sustainable development and limit predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects.
So far, HUD only released an advance notice of the requirements for the fiscal year 2011 Sustainable Regional Planning Grants Program and currently, submissions are not accepted. However, the beginning of the application process will be communicated through a Notice of Funding Availability.
For more information, visit the website for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
To ensure that prospective grant applicants are effectively addressing issues of equity in their proposals, PolicyLink released a set of guidelines. You can download it here.