Friday, August 7, 2009

Senators Introduce "Livable Communities Act " to Make Neighborhoods Better Places to Live and Work

Yesterday, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), along with fellow Committee members Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dan Akaka (D-HI) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), introduced legislation to help areas across the country plan and implement development projects that better integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.

The Livable Communities Act builds on the Administration’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, which was introduced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and Department of Energy as part of an interagency partnership in March. Prior to the introduction of the initiative, Dodd wrote a letter to President Obama encouraging him to create an entity focused primarily on revitalizing communities nationwide.

The new legislation, which authorizes $4 billion in grants to help states and cities pursue transit-oriented development and projects, is designed to help communities cut traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption, protect green spaces, and create more affordable housing, among other goals.

Specifically, the Livable Communities Act will:
  • Create competitive planning grants that towns and regions can use to create comprehensive long-term plans that integrate transportation, housing, land use, and economic development;
  • Create challenge grants that towns and regions can use to implement these long-term plans through investments in public transportation, affordable housing, complete streets, transit-oriented development, and brownfield redevelopment;
  • Establish a federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to administer and oversee the Livable Communities grant programs; and
  • Establish a federal Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities that will include representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies to coordinate federal sustainable development policies.
Legislation on this topic has not yet been introduced in the House of Representatives. To learn more about the Livable Communities Act, please read this One Page Summary.

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