Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guest Blogger Danielle Arigoni: Sustainable Housing Creates Environmental, Household & Community Benefits

The recognition that how and where we grow matters has reached the highest levels of government – and not a moment too soon. President Obama himself remarked,

The days where we’re just building sprawl forever? Those days are over…. Everybody recognizes that that’s not a smart way to build communities.”

In the face of our current financial meltdown and looming climate change crisis, what is smart are towns, cities, and states that make their public investments work harder, delivering multiple outcomes with each dollar spent. Investments in affordable housing are no exception.Rather than single-purpose spending to repair, renovate, or construct units, a sustainable approach to housing can lead to more fiscally- and environmentally-sound options for households, particularly those below median-income.

A sustainable approach to housing creates compact, mixed-income, mixed-use communities on locations close to transit, commercial, and or job centers so that driving becomes an option rather than a necessity.It utilizes green building techniques and materials to reduce energy consumption and to create healthier homes.It offers a range of housing types – attached and detached, small and large, rental and owner-occupied – to accommodate the needs of households of all sizes, ages, and incomes. Households benefit from lower transportation and utility costs, and the community benefits from less land consumed, more affordable workforce housing, and a lighter carbon footprint.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supporting communities in Connecticut to do just that, by developing guidelines to help them target state affordable housing dollars to create more sustainable choices. Once developed, these guidelines will serve as a resource to help all communities use affordable housing investments to create benefits for residents and their environment.

Danielle Arigoni, AICP is a Senior Policy Analyst in EPA’s Smart Growth Office. She is the author of “Affordable Housing and Smart Growth: Making the Connection” and co-author of “Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation.”

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