Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interagency Coordination Provides Promise for Livable Communities

The beginning of a unique partnership, Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), are promising to work together to create more livable communities that incorporate both affordable housing and viable transit options, among other amenities.

As part of this effort, the secretaries are launching a "Sustainable Communities Initiative” – a joint fund to encourage metro regions to develop integrated housing, land use and transportation plans, focused also on energy-saving initiatives and greenhouse gas reduction.

Historically, the departments have done little to coordinate their efforts. However, secretaries Donovan and LaHood recognize the need to work together to help cities across the U.S. create and foster sustainable communities for generations to come.

The new initiative has many supporters, including Representative John Olver (D-MA), who notes that a “livable community” reflects today’s popular concept of “transit-oriented development” by linking “the transportation mobility of the old and young alike with affordable housing, shopping, job opportunities, and green infrastructure.” Olver, who is head of the House Appropriations subcommittee controlling both the HUD and DOT budgets, has long-been championing closer housing-transportation collaboration.

While many are eagerly anticipating the implementation of these initiatives, Kent Watkins – a fellow advocate and chairman and CEO of Housing Innovations, Inc. – notes that critical tests loom on how quickly the new approaches are grasped and implemented through the ranks of the HUD and DOT bureaucracies. These are obstacles that the Administration will have overcome in order to implement their goals.

To learn more about these efforts, please read this recent piece by Neal Pierce.

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